The Washington Times - May 7, 2010, 04:58PM

Congressman Ron Kind, Wisconsin Democrat introduced his healthy choices act this week. The bill, presented as a way to give Americans more access to healthier eating and physical activities seems relatively innocuous. The problem, however, is  other issues could be tied into the anti-obesity initiative as well as the healthy choices act.

 “I’m not really seeing this bill as a stand-alone passage but as a way to be able to inject these ideas into other pieces of legislation as we’re moving forward. Transportation re-authorization….bike paths, walking paths, more outdoor recreational activities is something that is already starting to be incorporated, but we got to ramp it up,” Congressman Kind told reporters on Wednesday.


When asked by a reporter from CNS News about American personal responsibility in terms of general health and diet, Mr. Kind talked about the prevalence of “food deserts”:

“So much of this really does come to individual decision-making.  You can’t force people to do something they don’t want to do. What we can do, and what this legislation prescribes, is trying to make it as easy as possible for people to make the right decisions in their lives for children and adults alike and that’s what this is about…Often tough to mandate, but that’s not what we’re calling for in this bill, but people should have access to affordable nutritious food whether they live in a rural community of an inner city. And there are food deserts that exist in this country that we can do something about.”

It is interesting Mr. Kind brought up the transportation re-authorization act, and “food deserts”  because, American Thinker’s Peter Wilson has brought up some interesting points on the whole idea of “government as sports trainer and nutritionist.”

After First Lady Michelle Obama announced her anti-obesity initiative last month, Mr. Wilson wrote:

…a food desert is defined by the USDA and on the Let’s Move website as “neighborhoods that are more than a mile from a supermarket.” Stop for a second to wrap your mind around that. If your grocery store is more than a mile away, the federal government defines your community as “without a supermarket.”

When Mrs. Obama cites 23.5 million people living in food deserts, she of course doesn’t include Robert Redford’s ranch in Park City. She’s reaching a hand out to “low-income communities.” A U.S. Department of Agriculture report, “Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food: Measuring and Understanding Food Deserts and Their Consequences,” cited on the site, however, makes an important distinction not mentioned by Mrs. Obama:

Not all of these 23.5 million people have low income. If estimates are restricted to consider only low-income people in low-income areas, then 11.5 million people, or 4.1 percent of the total U.S. population, live in low-income areas more than 1 mile from a supermarket.

Towards the end of his piece, Mr. Wilson points out the obvious issue of daily American mobility and how often people commute to work and pass various food stores along the way: 

The food desert concept overlooks the daily mobility of the American population. People often commute ten or twenty miles to work, passing grocery stores along their routes. In rural communities, people who choose to live more than a mile from a grocery store typically drive into town every day for work or school. Furthermore, parents who are motivated to feed healthy food to their children won’t give up because their commute to the grocery store is 4.5 minutes longer than the national average.

People are also willing to drive a lot farther than one mile to go to “supercenters, where prices are lower.” Any chance that the Obama administration doesn’t like people shopping at Walmart?