Does the Government have a right to dictate your diet?

In May the Institute for Justice filed a lawsuit against the state of North Carolina on behalf of blogger Steve Cooksey. The suit claims the state violated Cooksey’s First Amendment right to free speech when it informed him that his anti-diabetes blog runs afoul of North Carolina laws requiring a license to dispense anything the state considers dietary advice.

This week Forbes is reporting that the main driver of the state crackdown on Cooksey is the national Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association). Forbes reports this group, based on internal documents the magazine says it obtained, pushes states to establish powerful dietetics and nutrition boards—like the board in North Carolina that has targeted Cooksey—“for the express purpose of limiting market competition for its Registered Dietitian members.” (Emphasis in original.)

If true, this is both illegal and troubling. But surprising? Hardly.


Advocates of the paleo diet, including author and science writer Gary Taubes, cite evidence that the explosion of obesity in the modern era can be traced to dietary policies that stress swapping out “good” fats in favor of “bad” carbohydrates. In a fascinating interview with George Mason University free-market economist Russ Roberts last year, Taubes argues that the federal government had little or no basis for pushing a high-carb diet on the American people for decades, and solid evidence to do just the opposite. And because the government chose to buck common sense, federal policies centered on shaping our diets have been responsible instead for mis-shaping our waistlines.