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Politico

 

Re: Should We Ban Thanksgiving?

November 27, 2013

By Paul Howard

A "leaked" memo from the FDA.

From: Dr. E. Scrooge, Associate Director, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN)

To: Dr. Michael Landa, Director, CFSAN

Dear Michael,

While the CFSAN staff is overjoyed at the commissioner’s recent announcement that the Food and Drug Administrations will ban trans fats, because they are unsafe at any level of consumption, we are disappointed that it took the FDA so long to get around to it. After all, 10 years ago we issued a rule requiring that trans fats be listed on nutritional labels on food products. Since then, the vast majority of food manufacturers have largely eliminated trans fats from their products.

My colleagues tell me that in 2012 consumption of trans fats fell to an all-time low of 1 gram per day—less than the maximum amount recommended by the American Heart Association. I mean, talk about closing the barn door after the cows get out! What’s the point of regulation if it’s just imposing a rule that the market has imposed already?

It’s time for the FDA to get ahead of the curve. Calorie overconsumption is the most serious health epidemic facing the nation today. We need to protect Americans from the enormous health risks associated with excessive caloric consumption— including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, some cancers and probably even Alzheimer’s. What you eat every day may one day kill you.

The best place to start? Let’s ban Thanksgiving.

Over a lifetime, Thanksgiving is undoubtedly a bigger killer of Americans than the trans fats in your Hostess Twinkies. After all, studies show that people tend to gain a whopping one to two pounds over the holiday season! The typical American consumes between 5,000 and 6,000 calories on Thanksgiving Day alone. That’s about three times the recommended 2,000-calorie daily intake. When you add in Christmas, Easter, Halloween and the occasional holiday office party, the problem balloons to epic proportions.

Just as there is no safe level of trans fat consumption, for people of average weight there is no safe level of weight gain—especially viewed over the course of a lifetime. To that end, we should gradually end all excess holiday food consumption. Feasting on holidays, after all, dates back to pre-industrial periods when people had to worry about regular famines and almost everyone worked in the agricultural sector.

Of course, we recognize that we can’t ban Thanksgiving right away. Let’s start with FDA-mandated rationing on the holidays. First, we propose a strict 4-ounce-per-person limit on turkey (ham is verboten) during the holidays. Pumpkin pie should be available only in 3-ounce portions to everyone with an LDL level below 90 and an HDL level above 50. Mandatory testing (free preventative testing available under your equally mandatory Obamacare health-insurance policy) will set guidelines for future individual food consumption and ensure regular follow-up from your government-mandated medical home.

Is this legal? Of course it is—because Thanksgiving has an impact on interstate commerce! (Just look at what it does to the stock market.) Think, too of all the excessive health-care costs imposed on federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid due to obesity-related complications resulting from holiday food consumption. This is a SCOTUS slam dunk.

Critics might argue that America’s waistline problems have already suffered from convoluted government recommendations on eggs and cholesterol (bad, then good again), butter and margarine (the original trans fat we recommended that people eat), and fat and carbohydrates (fat bad, carbs good, or maybe not—who knows?). It’s true that federal food recommendations have seen more changes than Lady Gaga on tour, but this time they really are science-based.

Libertarians will argue that people can make their own healthy choices empowered with the right information. But, come on, when has that ever worked? (I do think that America’s perverse agricultural subsidies have something to do with the obesity problem, but let’s pick a fight we can win. Remember the Raisin Administrative Committee?)

I’ve got great hopes for the FDA’s leadership in the fight against American obesity. We can even have President Obama launch our new FDA slogan: "Put a red line on America’s waistline!"

I know the FDA can make this work. If government can put a man on the moon, surely we can take turkey off the menu. And what will we lose? Falling into a tryptophan-induced food coma in the middle of a Detroit-Dallas matchup.

As always, I appreciate your taking the time to read my memos. I’m not sure if you saw my last one—I never got a response. Check your inbox. Search for "Candy Canes: The Silent Killer." Anyway, I can resend.

Original Source: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2013/11/should-the-fda-ban-thanksgiving-leaked-memo-100429.html

 

 
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