Wednesday, February 4, 2009

This Might Sound Funny but.....

Canadian news reported last night that the city of Gatineau Quebec is going to ban junk food from hockey arenas over the next three years. The news made light of it, talking about what we are going to do at the arenas now when we can't order Poutine (in my city it would be Nachos that are the big hit). But I see a different side of things - taking away people's choices. ARENA ARTICLE.

The article states that they did this because of phone calls from parents and other arena-users calling for junk food to be banned. It talks about the high number of obese people in the province, etc. But why should MY choice to indulge in a greasy snack once in awhile be taken away because other people cannot control themselves or have not educated their children to make better choices? Seriously, how far are things going to go?? I think that the arenas and other such events should provide more healthy choices, but IN ADDITION to the traditional junk, to offer more choices. I don't eat crap each and every day, so if I go to a game and have an urge to chow on a chocolate bar, why can't I? They don't let you bring in 'outside food' so stuffing one in my pocket won't help. I just think it's more far-reaching than people realize. Govt is not supposed to be telling people what to do, it is supposed to be there to help uphold laws, make sure the country is running smoothly, be a broker and a trade dealer around the world to bring us jobs and opportunities, etc. Not take over the job of people to make their own decisions about what to put in their mouths. Not take over the job of parents to teach their children not to over-indulge in junk food. I can understand banning smoking from events because that does affect other people sitting around. If I light up next to some guy who doesn't smoke, my action is directly affecting him. I don't have a problem with that - but what is my eating a bag of chips or a plate of poutine going to do to him? NOTHING.

Another flip on this is in relation to national health care. People don't want to pay for procedures, surgeries, and health-care for those that make themselves morbidly obese. But in places with National Health, it happens all the time. You end up paying for an alcoholic to get a liver transplant, so he can go out and pickle it again and then you can pay for his dialysis. You pay for an overly obese person who has eaten themselves nearly to death to stay in hospital for weeks or months, or pay for their round-the-clock help because they can't get out of bed. You pay for all of that when National Health is used. Or in reference to the current US ethical dilemna - pay for a single person to have 14 children using IVF and the subsequent care of those children...Of course you pay for well-needed medical interventions for people as well, but the whole scope includes those who have directly given themselves health problems despite years of being warned of side effects. So - what can the govt do? It can start taking away the general public's choices in a sweeping blanket of new regulations. Perhaps if junk food is removed from arenas, schools, universities, baseball and football stadiums, etc people will not be quite as obese and not need quite as much medical intervention, and thus use less taxpayer money to help them. OR perhaps if more people were responsible for paying for their own care, or a larger part of it, they would think twice about the choices they make, but that doesn't happen here.

I have been hearing a lot about the mayor of New York planning to ban salt and it's the same thing to me. I rarely add salt to my food. My father suffered from high blood pressure and only used pepper, and since I grew up copying him, I still do not add salt very often. I hate salt. But occasionally I like to have some salty french fries. YUM. Maybe every 2 months I indulge myself, if that. It's not my fault other people don't make those decisions for themselves. You can even ask for NO SALT at fast food places, vendors, etc and you will just have to wait for them to cook up a new batch. You can choose not to stop by the street vendor in the first place. CHOICES!! But if you don't care about it and eat tons of salt every day, why is it the business of the govt to stop it for everyone?? Could it really be because they see a trend where health care could become more and more nationalized and tons of money is going to be used up by these 'unhealthy people', so they axe the choice for EVERYONE? That is unreal, seriously, and voters need to put more thought into this. It is not black and white, it is not always the govt thinking of 'the greater good', sometimes they are thinking long-term with money. Or they are saying that people are too stupid to feed themselves properly so they are going to help us. THAT is NOT what the govt is supposed to be there for. NY Article.

Here is my view on it - for countless years we have been warned about the effects of excess salt, fat, sugar, and so on. Many companies have chosen to already reduce salt content (for example, Campbells soup has brands marked 1/2 less salt, etc, as well as reducing salt content across the board). However, at the same time, food items have been labeled for many many years - it already tells you right on the label how much salt is in there. If you think it's too much, you have the CHOICE not to buy it. If too many people switch to a different brand because of less salt, the Salty Brand will most likely reduce it's content as well to draw customers back. The balance corrects itself over and over. People can CHOOSE. So why force companies to reduce their salt by 50%? If people are concerned about content in all foods, they have another CHOICE - make the damn food from scratch themselves!!!! Seriously, why do we need govt officials dipping their hands in and forcing companies to comply? A mayor?? What about the US and Canadian health administrations? I suppose if they made new rules about salt content, it's still the govt sticking it's nose in, but a city mayor? What the hell? I don't get it. As for the hockey arena junk food, the article said if arenas do not comply, they will not renew their licenses. That is taking away choices, people, watch for it because it happens more and more all the time.

Salt is still a necessary ingredient for making something that is very important to the body -BLOOD (not to mention many other key body functions. A small amount is needed but I remember when I had a lot of blood loss after my second child, I was told to make sure I was not cutting salt completely out of my diet. I was given guidelines about how much to eat so that over the next 6 weeks, my body could make more healthy blood to replace the loss. I was also told to eat higher amounts of other foods such as dark green veggies, but I was surprised about being told to eat a small amount of salt every day after years of being told to stay the heck away from it because of my blood pressure (point to note - even though my entire life I have used very little salt and my salt shaker only gets filled once a year because I so rarely use it, my BP is sky high and has been for over a decade,,, go figure eh? And to top that off, my dad did not add salt to his diet for at least 20 years and he still died of a sudden heart attack at age 49 in 1996. He was a fit man with an active job and still his ticker stopped ticking).

Anyway I am just rambling because I don't think 'inside the box'. I don't listen to a news report and say 'oh good, they want us to be healthy, how nice of them', I think deeper about how it really means choices are being taken away. If I choose to eat too much salt and keel over, that is my own fault. Why should the govt force everyone else not to eat it just because I go overboard and ignore well-publicized health warnings? Do you want to have your monthly french fry snack taken away because someone else chows on them every day and does not exercise self-control? Well that is what is going to keep happening if people don't speak up and rein in the govt that WE EMPLOY.

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These are my views and opinions. If you don't agree or think I am sadly misguided, that is your view. Feel free to share your thoughts but I also reserve my right to moderate content (IE foul language, excessive flaming, etc).