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date: 23 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the supposed difference between health regulations that are generally accepted (e.g., inspections for salmonella) and ones that are found excessively paternalistic (portion size controls), and it argues that the two are basically the same: in each case government tries to protect people from choices that do not advance their ends. Coercion is not bad when it keeps people from making choices that would promote obesity and heart disease, since most people value health more than they value the availability of large portions of junk food. Paternalists recognize that people also value things other than health, such as social outings involving food and celebrations of culture that feature traditional meals. The chapter argues that eating habits have always evolved, however, and an evolution that reflects healthier options in particular is no more destructive of shared social gatherings or cultural traditions than any other change.

Keywords: paternalism, coercion, junk food, regulations, health, obesity control

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