April 8, 2009

The Salt Nanny

New York City's Mayor Bloomberg has decided, all on his own, without the scientific method to back him up, to reduce salt in foods sold in New York City.

You might, for instance, take note of a recent clinical trial in which heart patients put on a restricted-sodium diet fared worse than those on a normal diet. In light of new research suggesting that eating salt improves mood and combats depression, you might be alert for psychological effects of the new diet. You might worry that people would react to less-salty food by eating more of it, a trend you could monitor by comparing them with a control group.

But if you are the mayor of New York, no such constraints apply. You can simply announce, as Michael Bloomberg did, that the city is starting a "nationwide initiative" to pressure the food industry and restaurant chains to cut salt intake by half over the next decade. Why bother with consent forms when you can automatically enroll everyone in the experiment?

Read the whole thing for interesting facts about salt in your diet... including the fact that scientists have not been able to prove that lowering your salt intake lengthens your life or your health.  But if your the Salt Nanny, all you care about is controlling the babies in your charge.

I heard a caller on the radio the other day, on a different subject ask, "What am I allowed to decide for myself?"  The government plans to pick the kind of car you drive, determine it's gas mileage, enroll you in some health care plan... and at some levels of government you'll be told not to eat Trans Fats, not to eat too much salt, not to carry this or that gun, not to speak out about this or that subject... yes, what am I allowed to decide for myself?

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