Julia Perillo's Stossel essay (Food Nannies) was awarded a prize! She earned a spot as one of 50 semi-finalists and will be receiving a $100 check for writing an essay! Isn't that amazing?
Nearly 7,000 essays from students across the country were submitted to the contest, so all winning essays—even Honorable Mentions—were among the top 2% of all essays submitted.
Congratulations! Here is Julia's essay.
To Eat, or Not to Eat
by Julia Perillo
While the government should try to inspire people to make healthy choices, it is not the government’s responsibility to force people to eat healthy. As New York Times reporter and author of Salt Sugar Fat Michael Moss says, “They may have salt, sugar, and fat on their side, but we, ultimately, have the power to make choices. After all, we decide what to buy. We decide how much to eat.” This quote illustrates the idea that people have the power and the choice to decide what they eat, not the government. Personal decisions about which foods people will eat should not be disrupted by the government.
Having the freedom to make choices between many options is part of what makes America a unique, free, and desirable country to live in. For instance, if the government were only to allow its citizens to practice one religion in this country, people would angrily protest for having their liberty taken away. The same goes for food. People should have options and freedom to consume whatever they want without government interference. While the government should inspire and motivate people to live a healthier lifestyle, the government is not responsible for banning certain types of foods and limiting options for the public. The Declaration of Independence states that people have natural born rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” To clarify, by creating bans and restrictions that limit people’s food options, the government is denying Americans their natural right to live their lives the way that they want.
When the government imposes health requirements on certain corporations, it costs the corporations a great deal of money and these requirements are often ineffective. As John Stossel mentions in his Fox News hour Myths, Lies, and Complete Stupidity, the government is forcing big corporations to post clearly visible calorie counts on their menus. This costs the companies money and time to change their promotional materials and signs, and to research and calculate the number of calories in their offerings. Ironically, studies have shown that even with these calorie counts clearly visible to patrons, people actually consume more calories than they would without access to nutritional information. Evidently, the government’s costly regulations are pointless and inefficient. Moreover, government is forcing companies to incur an expense, yet there is no health benefit to the consumer. Furthermore, New York City’s former mayor Michael Bloomberg banned establishments from selling “supersized” sugary drinks. However, nothing is stopping people from buying bigger drinks from the supermarket or purchasing more than one large cup. The fact of the matter is, if someone wants to live an unhealthy life, they will find a way to do it. The government’s bans do not affect their decisions, and can end up causing companies to waste money.
Because the government now pays for some people’s healthcare, some argue that the government should play a bigger role in keeping people healthy. Obamacare has turned healthcare into a government issue. People who are obese have a much higher risk to develop high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. On the other hand, not everyone was in favor of Obamacare and not everyone receives Obamacare. Additionally, people who do not receive socialized healthcare should not be forced to be healthy since the government does not pay for their health care. Though the government should inform people about healthy living, they should not be allowed to ban things on the basis of government health care that not every citizen is receiving.
The government should not be responsible for keeping citizens healthy because it violates the right to freedom of choice, it is costly yet ineffective to implement some of these measures, and the government does not pay for everyone’s health care so the government should not force everyone to be healthy. People have the right to live the kind of life they want to live, and the government should not interfere with this unalienable right. It is not the responsibility of the government to dictate what an individual chooses to eat, and everyone should have options for what they would like to eat. John Mackey, the founder of Whole Foods once said, “Rather than increase government spending and control, we need to address the root causes of poor health. This begins with the realization that every American adult is responsible for his or her own health."