Banning the Big Mac and More

Deven Desai

Deven Desai is an associate professor of law and ethics at the Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology. He was also the first, and to date, only Academic Research Counsel at Google, Inc., and a Visiting Fellow at Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy. He is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley and the Yale Law School. Professor Desai’s scholarship examines how business interests, new technology, and economic theories shape privacy and intellectual property law and where those arguments explain productivity or where they fail to capture society’s interest in the free flow of information and development. His work has appeared in leading law reviews and journals including the Georgetown Law Journal, Minnesota Law Review, Notre Dame Law Review, Wisconsin Law Review, and U.C. Davis Law Review.

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8 Responses

  1. Frank says:

    I think this all makes sense–but I have to say that, at least for children, really paternalistic (parentalistic?) measures make sense. The greasy food can be just too tempting, and heavy kids’ identities can quickly congeal around being overeaters. Anyway, in the Bloche/Epstein debate I link to in the following post, I’m definitely with Bloche:

    http://www.concurringopinions.com/archives/2007/07/the_genius_of_m.html

  2. Deven says:

    Right, so it seems to me the measure could do more to be effective on changing the way kids see food and that restaurants could choose to engage with the upside rather than fight all efforts to improve food. (The nanny state stuff is not so compelling to me. Folks invoke when they dislike a proposal and ignore similar rules when they like them. And with recent bad behaviors OR just wild swings from certain industries, the cry of nanny state seems suspect).

    Then again, maybe we should all be required to do calisthenics at the break of dawn.

  3. birtelcom says:

    I wonder whether publicly supported advertisements vividly associating fatty foods with obesity, sickness and death, a la anti-smoking ads, would be more palatable (no pun intended) than banning the offending foods entirely. We don’t even ban the sale of cigarettes to adults, and the case for that ban would be more compelling. Effective, ubiquitous advertising connecting unhealthy food to their real consequences (as opposed to the connections to happy, healthy lives portrayed in ubiquitous food industry ads) would be fighting fire with fire and could go some way to limiting the continuing growth of fast food addictions.

  4. Deven says:

    Yes PSAs would be another way to address the issue. That fits with the idea of across the board efforts that impact all food service. The ban is perhaps well-intentioned but its approach may need some fine tuning.

  5. d says:

    I’m concerned about the effect of these laws on the impoverished. Those in poverty are demonstrably more likely to be obese. If there are few available sources of affordable food that doesn’t consume too much time, banning some of them may lead to more hardship for the impoverished.

  6. d says:

    I’m concerned about the effect of these laws on the impoverished. Those in poverty are demonstrably more likely to be obese. If there are few available sources of affordable food that doesn’t consume too much time, banning some of them may lead to more hardship for the impoverished.

  7. TRE says:

    Banning trans-fats seems relatively harmless to me. I don’t see how a law could possibly ban “fast-food” though. How would they define it?

  8. Why not just try a little experiment first – get a bunch of well-meaning, know-ehat’s-best-for-the-people law professors to pool their money together and open up a couple of alternative food restaurants right next to the McDonalds and other proprietors you propose to further regulate. Presented with a healthy alternative, no doubt the populace will turn out in droves and make you all very rich…of course, you’ll probably then voluntarily turn most of that newfound wealth over to governments ’cause you don’t want to contribute to that wealth inequality thing…