Food Policy Debates

October 3, 2014 • Volume 24, Issue 35
Should government regulate unhealthy foods?
By Robert Kiener

Introduction

Locally grown food for the burgeoning “locavore” (Getty Images/Dan Porges)
A farmers market in Los Angeles is among more than 8,000 such outlets in the United States offering locally grown food for the burgeoning “locavore” movement. (Getty Images/Dan Porges)

Inspired by a movement that touts healthy eating and warns of danger from an industrialized food supply, millions of Americans are cutting back on processed and fast foods and sugary soda. Many are turning to fresh, lean and “clean” foods out of fear that sugar, salt, fat and additives can lead to heart disease, obesity, diabetes and other problems. Other Americans, however, continue to eat unhealthily, contributing to record levels of diet-related illnesses and rising health care costs. Healthy-eating activists want the government to tax sugary sodas, mandate expanded nutrition labels and restrict portion sizes. The food industry is fighting such proposals, contending that changing the nation's eating habits lies more with the free market than with legislation. Meanwhile, nutritionists and medical professionals are debating the value of gluten-free diets, with proponents claiming that wheat products lead to a wide range of illnesses and critics arguing that the diets lack scientific merit.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Food Safety
Jun. 16, 2017  Food Labeling
Oct. 03, 2014  Food Policy Debates
Aug. 31, 2012  Genetically Modified Food
Dec. 17, 2010  Food Safety
Jan. 26, 2007  Slow Food Movement
Nov. 01, 2002  Food Safety
Mar. 30, 2001  Biotech Foods
Sep. 04, 1998  Food Safety Battle: Organic Vs. Biotech
Jun. 04, 1993  Food Safety
Jun. 12, 1992  Food Irradiation
Nov. 08, 1991  Fast-Food Shake-up
Nov. 18, 1988  How Safe Is Your Food?
Dec. 11, 1981  Controversy Over Salt in Food
Dec. 08, 1978  Fast Food: U.S. Growth Industry
May 12, 1978  Food Additives
Dec. 26, 1969  Food Additives
Dec. 04, 1968  Synthetic Foods
Jan. 20, 1960  Food Safeguards
Feb. 09, 1952  Chemicals in Foods
Dec. 18, 1934  Revision of the Pure Food and Drugs Act
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Agricultural Research
Agriculture and the Environment
Consumer Protection and Product Liability
Nutrition
Obesity and Weight Control
Regulation and Deregulation