Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dissecting Propaganda - Why We're Fat

The implication of these pyramids is that the government is keeping us fat through it's farm subsidy policy. A corrolary of this implication is that the solution to our 'obesity problem' is one that must be addressed through government action, or reform of government policy.

What's missing from this data is a third pyramid titled "What food people like, and choose to eat, the most." If this pyramid were shown it would undoubtedly mirror the pyramid on the left very closely. In other words, the government doesn't arbitrarily set subsidy policy independent of the will of the people. A salad costs more than a Big Mac because the demand for salads is lower. Government subsidies are the way they are because we choose to live, and eat, the way that we do. If we all ate like rabbits, farms would go out of business, and the government would have no reason to continue subsidizing them.

None of this is to say that I'm in favor of farm subsidies, I'm not. It's simply to point out the misleading nature of graph comparisons like these. They're intended to make us feel like victims of some greater force beyond our control, when really, if we're victims of anything, it's our own eating habits. So while they want you to see this data and think "Uncle Sam is responsible for making me fat!", what the data actually reveals is what any child knows; what tastes good often differs from what is good for you.

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