Taken with a grain of salt


New York City's activist, Nanny State mayor has a new crusade.

So far, neither the citizens nor the courts of the Big Apple have seen fit to rein in Mayor Michael Bloomberg's campaigns to ban public smoking and the use of "trans fats" in city restaurants. So the mayor has decided to keep going in his efforts to save us from ourselves.

The latest target? Salt.

Last week, the Bloomberg administration unveiled a broad new health initiative aimed at "encouraging" food manufacturers and restaurant chains across the country to curtail the amount of salt in their products.

The plan, for which the city claims support from health agencies in other cities and states, sets a goal of reducing the amount of salt in packaged and restaurant food by 25 percent over the next five years.

Public health experts say that would reduce the incidence of high blood pressure and should help prevent some of the strokes and heart attacks associated with that condition.

"We all consume way too much salt, and most of the salt we consume is in the food when we buy it," said Dr. Thomas Farley, the city's health commissioner, whose department is leading the effort.

Eighty percent of the salt in Americans' diets comes from packaged or restaurant food.

Needless to say, the New Yorkers insist corporate cooperation with the scheme will be entirely "voluntary."

Those who were once asked to "voluntarily" wear seat belts and motorcycle helmets, immunize their children, and limit their smoking in public places may be excused if they take their pencils and add to the end of such a sentence "... for now."

It would indeed be healthier if most Americans ate less salt.

But if the "save us from ourselves" movement goes too far -- and it's quickly getting there -- it will eventually trigger a pendulum swing in the other direction. And mobs fed up with being told what to do may not stop till they've also rebelled against and repealed much of the legitimate good the public health movement has achieved.

 

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