As a rule, I do not think First Ladies should come in for much criticism.  Generally speaking, they do volunteer work, trying to pick out some areas where they can help improve America.  It’s not their fault that the chub they married ended up as President of the United States.

With Michelle Obama, what’s there not to like?   She is doing some good work, and raising daughters in the hothouse atmosphere of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  Sure, the White House will use her politically as they did this week in Nevada to shore up Sen. Harry Reid.

As everyone knows, the First Lady is working on fighting childhood obesity with exercise and healthy food choices.  What’s there not to like about that?  I want to make this clear–nothing whatsoever.

Still I think someone should point out that it sounds creepy whenever governments start talking about calorie restrictions.  I am, of course, referring to the pledge the packaged food industry has made to Mrs. Obama to take 1.5 trillion calories out of their products by 2015.

All of this is being done the name of fighting childhood obesity, a good cause.

But history is full of examples of where in the name of a good cause, governments tried to restrict somebody’s calories and it ‘s always creepy.  After World War II, the United States decided Germany would eat less so the rest of Europe could eat more.

We limited Germans to 1,500 calories per day, closed its border to food package shipments, and put our troops under orders to destroy their excess food rather than sharing it with local Germans.

Henry Morgenthau, U.S. Secretary of Treasury, was behind the plan to keep German’s hungry for a couple of years after the war.  He wanted to reduce Germany’s future war-making tendencies–a good cause.

Not a fan of caloric restrictions, however, was Harry Truman.  The winter of 1946-47 was especially harsh, and it was then that Truman let the food flow.  A year later, the same President ordered the Berlin Airlift to feed the western areas of the city that were blockaded by the Soviet Union.

What young Germans would remember about the dark days after World War II were not the calorie restrictions, but the “Candy Bombers,” the airlift pilots who threw candy bars to hungry German kids on the ground as they approached Tempelhof Airport with loads of food and coal to keep Berlin alive and free.

  • Doc Mudd

    Thank you for reminding us of the history of caloric restriction as a display of political power and control.
    The concept of embargo more often involves subtle taxes and tariffs than swashbuckling naval blockades, these days. Taxation has proven to be an elegant means of singling out and pitting a domestic socioeconomic group against itself, simultaneously filling the regulatory coffers…to fund increasingly intense campaigns against them.
    I, too, sense the nanny state noose tightening in what seems like an early, but escalating race to the bottom. Lord, save us from zealous ‘do-gooders’…for they know not what they do.

  • While I do not disagree with your comments, Michele Obama is trying to traverse a very slippery social-engineering slope with her efforts to reform school lunches. I have yet to see a credible effort toward educating parents (especially new ones) on the value of introducing good nutrition habits once solid food is started as part of the diet.

  • Matt Jaqua

    Mr. Cornyn;
    You might want to check out your local health department’s programs that involve training new parents on nutrition and other food topics. Programs like WIC, Babies First, and the like provide one-on-one and small group education, mentoring and follow up activities. Fighting the garbage food industry’s ad barrage is an uphill battle.

  • Matt Jaqua

    Mr. Flynn;
    Are you really saying that the effort to restrict caloric intake in post-WWII Germany was “for a good cause”? I see absolutely no comparison between that decision the First Lady’s efforts to reduce the caloric load of manufactured food.
    If history is “full of examples”, try another one.
    I am a bit perplexed that a site like Food Safety News would post something like this, it seems more appropriate for a right wing conspiracy theorist rag.

  • Alan

    I’m with Matt. This article is a ridiculous comparison. Comparing allied treatment of Germans after WWII to trying to reverse obesity in 21st century America? I can’t even conjure up a more unrelated comparison. The intent is entirely different and the power or ability to restrict calories by Michelle? There isn’t any. This article has to be from somebody representing the junk food companies. I hope people aren’t stupid enough to fall for it.

  • Doc Mudd

    This article raises a single, vital question:
    Just who the hell is Michelle Obama to ration calories among her royal subjects? This used to be America, land of the free.