Are you telling me that voting for a city council gives them the right to dictate your food choices?[/QUOTE]
No. I'm telling the person who asked why legislatures think they know what's best for us why legislatures think they know what's best for us. When I have opinions on city councils, I will state them. E.g. Christine Quinn is a waste of space.
50 years ago, give or take, items of processed food started appearing regularly in our shops in the UK. Many of the older generation at the time did not touch these foods other than the occasional tin of Spam (pork meat) or corned beef, tins of beans etc. However, the younger generation grew up with them including the introduction of all the sodas and so on. None of us knew the dangers lurking round the corner. Same with smoking. Cigarettes were given to soldiers during the war to calm them, not knowing the health risks associated with smoking (at least the soldiers didn't know the risks).
Well, we are all a bit wiser now. And so are the corporations who make these products. Enough scientific studies have been done to show which substances are potentially bad for us. A recent documentary on TV showed that HFCS is a major factor in obesity and the producers of this stuff (as has already been pointed out here) have won the right to continue making it.
We have our own obesity problem here which is similar to the US (or getting there). There has been debates about legislating against certain foods (higher taxes on them and so on) but this has come to nothing, as yet. Instead the government policy is to encourage healthier eating through the "Change 4 Life" campaign. This includes a series of TV adverts every few months which are practical and give advice (using a little PlayDoh family) on small changes that can be made to reduce lifestyle health risks. This is coupled with interventions in schools and doctor surgeries. It's a cohesive message (whether you agree with the contents or not).
During routine health checks for children, parents of obese children are approached with a view to helping them get their child back to a healthier weight. If no co-operation, then Social Services are involved as it's considered child abuse to allow this to continue. I am not sure how rigorously this is managed, but I suspect it's given some priority, and can lead to children being taken into care if situation does not improve - but that is an extreme measure and not so common.
People who are very poor here do tend to buy rubbish food as it's inexpensive but filling, and the majority of obese children are from poorer backgrounds - but it's not exclusive (it's not the poor who have cupboards full of chocolate bars and crisps). So public education is the only way to go. You can't legislate what food people can or can't buy or say they can't have healthcare because their illness is their own fault. There would be no end to it, would there? But maybe that's where we're headed.
I've noticed on TV during the adverts that almost EVERY advert is selling snacks or food of some sort. The message that it's ok to 'snack' all the time has got to be a big contributing factor to obesity. And some of these snacks are the size of meals! HFCS is bad but it's not the only thing that's bad. Our attitude to food, overeating, wastage, consumerism, all contribute to the problem. The governments should not legislate our food intake but they should influence the amount of advertising and when something can be advertised, what messages we are getting/our children are getting. McDonald's for example do not advertise SuperSize meals here anymore, but you can still get them I believe if you ask.
I don't know what a 16oz drink looks like but most of the sizes on sale in the UK are fairly regular - probably 12oz (not huge). Anecdotally, I've been told that when eating out in the States, you can feed a family of four on one portion of food there?? Sure that's not entirely true, but are we all turning into gluttons?
If people want to eat themselves into an early grave then all you can do is try and educate them. But would any food outlet refuse to serve someone on the basis of "you're too fat already, you can only buy the salad"? Just like a barman would refuse to give a drunkard another drink. You can't nanny state everything. But if you educate, eventually the messages will get through.