Survey Said: People Find Food Laws Palatable!

Don’t you tell me what to do!  (Though feel free to whisper gently into my ear how many calories are in that Big Mac.)

That, more or less, is what our survey from a few weeks ago revealed about New Yorkers’ attitudes toward the city government’s healthy eating initiatives. While our respondents (all 14 of them) tended to oppose government efforts to influence citizens’ food choices in theory, when asked about the city’s actual influencing efforts they were sort of, well, appreciative.

For those keeping score, here are the hard numbers:

  • The majority of respondents (9 out of 14, or 65 percent) landed near “Separation of shopping cart and state is a constitutional right.” Only one dictator-friendly—or just lazy—New Yorker agreed with the statement, “Heck, the mayor can order my takeout for me for all I care.”
  • If our survey-takers were mayor (God help us), they would focus on nutritional education (29 percent) or junk food restrictions (21 percent).
  • The city’s law banning trans fats—remember those?—was surprisingly popular: 86 of respondents supported it. They also appreciated city ordnances that required calorie counts on menus and that regulated what foods schools can sell (about 80 percent in each case).
  • The vast majority (12 people, or 86 percent) admitted to being influenced by those menu calorie counts (suckers!).

Finally, while the crowd offered many thoughtful points and suggestions (healthy food fairs, celebrity PSAs, food stamps for farmers’ markets), our favorite was this British-Freudian pearl of wisdom:

“Banning stuff only makes it naughtier, and hence people want it more.”

To see the results in all their sordid detail, head here.

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