Diet Activists in 'Food Fight'
Diet Activists in 'Food Fight'

Not everyone is happy with the ongoing campaign to get people to adopt more healthful eating habits.

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A consumer freedom movement is fighting efforts by diet activists who, they say, are trying to dictate what people should and should not eat.  


The Center for Consumer Freedom (C.C.F.) was formed by lobbyist Rick Berman to back those who feel their personal choices are being increasingly threatened.  

The C.C.F. says on its website that it opposes what it calls the ?cabal of activists? that ?has meddled in Americans? lives in recent years.? These include what the C.C.F. describes as "health campaigners, trial lawyers, personal-finance do-gooders, animal-rights misanthropes, and meddling bureaucrats.?

A non-profit advocacy group, the C.C.F. gets much of its money from the food and restaurant industries.  Like those industries, it is especially unhappy with government efforts to tax or restrict consumers? food choices.


The C.C.F.?s main nemesis is the Center for Science in the Public Interest (C.S.P.I.), which describes itself as an advocate for nutrition and health and food safety. It says it accepts no government or corporate funds.   

The C.S.P.I. claims a long list of accomplishments. It has successfully advocated the accurate labeling of salt and fat content on food labels.  It has pushed for lower-fat meals in schools.  It has also joined the campaign against sugary soft drinks.  

The C.S.P.I. says it advocates what its website calls a ?more healthy, plant-based, environmentally friendly diet.? 


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The Center for Consumer Freedom has no problem with that, as long as such a diet is left as a matter of personal choice.  The C.C.F. advocates the right of adults and parents to choose how they live their lives and what they eat and drink.  In so many words, they want the C.S.P.I. and other such groups to mind their own business.

Critics accuse both groups of exaggerating their claims, and offering questionable or selective interpretations of data.  Some have suggested that the C.S.P.I. is guilty of using scare tactics, warning about food dangers that are questionable.  Both groups are known for their strong, sometimes intemperate statements about their opponents.

The battle comes at a time when the American debate over healthcare reform has put a spotlight on the importance of maintaining good health and avoiding expensive medical treatment. Should diet?a key element to maintaining good health--be solely a matter of individual choice, free from coercion? 

The ongoing debate between groups like the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Center for Consumer Freedom reflect the ideological and political differences among members of the public about the sometimes conflicting roles of free choice and government action in determining what we eat.