New dietary guidelines far-reaching

Published 10:20 am Tuesday, March 10, 2015

“All right, tubby, if you aren’t going to stop sitting in front of the TV, eating fatty and sugary treats, maybe the government should force you to change your ways.”

“Force me to change my ways? But I know what foods do and don’t make me tubby. I choose to live this way.”

“Yeah, and that’s why the federal committee responsible for nutrition guidelines, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), says it needs to step in.”

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“What do you mean, ‘step in’?”

“DGAC just released a far-reaching 571-page report that gives proposed recommendations to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture that explain how to ‘transform the food system’ and, hopefully, make Americans less fat!”

“What kind of proposed recommendations?”

“Well, according to The Associated Press, they are calling for interventions by trained weight-management interventionists in health-care settings, community locations and worksites.”


“Sure, DGAC also called for interventions into public policy that would limit access to high-calorie grub in government-owned buildings, limit the ability of fatty-foods companies to advertise their goods, and tax salty and fatty treats.”

“They want to tax my junk food?”

“Sure. They are thinking they can use tax revenues, based on foods that aren’t so good for us, to fund healthy-eating education and obesity-prevention programs.”

“Who doesn’t know that cakes and sweets and other delicious treats are high in calories or that vegetables are good for us? We choose one over the other aware of the consequences.”

“But you’re not getting with the program, are you? DGAC is not just coming after your treats, either. They’re coming after you and the way you behave.”

“It’s none of the government’s business how I behave!”

“But that’s not what the government thinks. You would admit that you spend way too much time sitting in front of the tube. That is bad for your health. And, when you consider how much health care is costing the government these days, your behavior is now the government’s concern.”

“So what does DGAC want to do to prevent sedentary behavior?”

“It recommends coaching and counseling sessions and peer-based support programs. It also likes the idea of using electronic monitoring devices to limit screen time. According to AP, that idea ‘came from The Community Guide, a group affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reviewed studies that used an electronic monitoring device to limit screen time of teenagers.’”

“They want to use high-tech surveillance to stop tubby American people from watching television?”

“You have to admit, you are doing a poor job on your own. Their intentions are good. They want you to stop eating so much meat, too, in favor of plant-based foods, as it is good for you and the environment!”

“What the heck does the environment have to do with my dinner choices?”

“Well, DGAC says it is also concerned about the effects of your diet on climate change. It recommends a Mediterranean-style diet with lots of vegetables, since that produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the beef-loving American diet.”

“If God didn’t want us to eat beef, why did he make it taste so good?”

“Look, DGAC’s conclusion is that personal health must become a human right. If you aren’t on board, you still have a chance to provide public comment before final dietary guidelines are released later this year.”

“But doesn’t every human already have the right to eat healthy? Nobody is forcing potato chips down our throats. I just get awfully uneasy when the government uses good intentions to force specific behaviors on citizens. What are they going to forbid next, coffee?”

“DGAC says it’s OK to drink three to five cups of coffee a day — but not more.”

“Why not?”

“I think it’s because more coffee makes people crabby and more likely to vote for Republicans.”


Tom Purcell, author of “Misadventures of a 1970’s Childhood” and “Comical Sense: A Lone Humorist Takes on a World Gone Nutty!” is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. Send comments to Tom at