Two senators are proposing a new level of nanny-state nonsense with a measure requiring the federal government to create special nutrition guidelines for pregnant women and toddlers. As if there aren’t already enough people in the media and everywhere else telling pregnant women what to eat, now Uncle Sam wants to play Dietitian in Chief for them, too.
The senators behind the proposal–Joe Manchin, D-W.V., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.–are trying to tack it on to the already convoluted and contested farm bill. The amendment would require the Health and Human Services and Agriculture departments to work together on specific guidelines for proper nutrition for toddlers and pregnant women.
“Right now, anyone in America can find science-based guidelines for what to eat and how much to have,” Manchin, explained, which doesn’t speak too highly to the need for new government-endorsed guidelines. Yes, pregnant women and small children do have special dietary needs, but there are so many resources available already that adding this to the federal agenda just seems like a waste of time and money.
Manchin emphasized that such nutritional guidelines would be voluntary and provide parents “solid information” on feeding children so they can grow up in a healthy lifestyle.
At least he specifies that the guidelines won’t somehow be compulsory (Pregnant? You can run, you can hide, but you can’t escape the federal nutrition guidelines…). Perhaps that’s in contrast to some of New York City’s recent initiatives .
Obviously, the government already endorses certain food principles, explicity and tacitly. We’ve got the food pyramid/My Plate; the school lunch program; and food assistance programs like SNAP and WIC; there are all sorts of arenas in which the government is called on to make dietary decisions.
But in terms of dietary resources for specific subgroups of the U.S. population, there’s already so much out there (including info on maternal and childhood nutrition) from doctors, medical groups, university research departments, popular books, advocacy groups, etc. Considering the “weight of the nation” (to borrow a phrase from HBO), I wouldn’t quite say that this mix of nutrition advice has been working out quite perfectly, there’s little evidence government nutrition initiatives have done any better over the past century or so.