Consumed by the Nanny State

Did you know that a long black coffee is two kilojoules?

You’d know this if you ventured into McDonald’s recently. You would also be advised of the calorific content of every other product available from the fast food giant. One can only imagine the benefit to the regular McDonald’s consumer as they count calories while deciding between a Big Mac and an Iced Frappe.

You’d have to be living under a rock not to know that fast food contains a lot of fat, salt, sugar and simple carbohydrates. Anyone in their right mind also knows that eating too much of it isn’t good for your health but do we really need to be reminded at every purchase that every burger carries a weight penalty?

Most of us adhere to the adage of moderation in all things. That means a trip to the local burger joint is a convenient and enjoyable indulgence rather than a family staple, just like a nice bottle of wine, bacon and eggs for breakfast or a rich dessert after dinner.

So why try to use the encroachment of the nanny state to reduce the pleasure of an occasional indulgence by highlighting what most of us already know and don’t want (or need) to be reminded of? Well, the advocates claim it helps parents to make healthier food choices for their children but that is surely a figment of their hopeful imagination.

Do you really believe that when Mum visits McDonald’s she chooses a Big Mac for the kids over a Quarter Pounder because it has fewer kilojoules? It’s even more farcical to believe that the habitual over-indulger of fast food delights will change their ways by the addition of a few numerals on the menu board.

If that were the case, I’d suggest they would have adjusted their diets as the numbers on their waistband crept up with each new pair of trousers.

The problem isn’t so much this specific change in fast food accounting but the ongoing encroachment of the nanny state. Where is it going to stop? Are we entering a version of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four where we are subordinated to a supposed collective greater good and the Ministry of Truth determines what we can and need to know?

It certainly seems like that’s the case. While it will provide an army of bureaucrats with something to justify their continued employment, it’s time government gave some credit to the citizenry by restoring personal responsibility and common sense as hallmarks of good policy.

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