Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Towards a Columbian donut cartel

Have you had your dopamine hit today? Jacob Sullum writes in Reason about recent findings that high-calorie products, like donuts, ice-cream and cheeseburgers, are, ahem, addictive. Sullum writes of how activists are now trying to force food companies to warn consumers about the perils of what they consume – presumably on the note of “Statutory Warning – Eating chocolates can be dangerously addictive”.

I’d probably burst out laughing if I ever saw a warning like that, pausing only to pop said dangerous object in my mouth. The bottomline, as Sullum points out, is that people have volition and control over their actions, and are not slaves to their biochemicals – unless they choose to be. He writes:

[There is] a misunderstanding of drug addiction, which is neither inevitable nor inescapable. The government's own statistics indicate that the vast majority of people who use drugs—even such reputedly powerful substances as heroin and crack—never become addicts. Those who do often manage to stop or moderate their use. There are about as many former smokers in this country as smokers, for example, and they typically quit without formal "treatment."

This applies even more to overeating. “People do, after all, shed pounds when their reasons for eating less outweigh their desire to eat more,” Sullum writes. “Just as important, people can avoid overeating in the first place, no matter how ‘truly delicious and addictive’ the food they encounter.”

This is not to say that obesity is desirable or that pornography, which is also “addictive”, is not a bad thing at all. It simply means that people are in charge of their own lives, and of the choices they make. It’s a cop-out to blame the cheeseburger manufacturer for your high cholestrol. We all have strong impulses and pulls to deal with, in differing degrees, and no one else has moral responsibility for them but ourselves.

Hey, I burped. Time to call my lawyer.

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