Eric Crampton points us to this wee gem from the West Island:
The Director of the Centre for Research & Action in Public Health at the University of Canberra, Rachel Davey, lauds Britain's wartime and post-war food rationing as an example for reducing obesity.War time rationing as the answer to obesity? You have got to be taking the piss! I'm sure we could stop people consuming all sorts of things if we introduced rationing but I foresee all sorts of problems, not the lest of which would be the huge enforcement costs of such an idea. You can see criminal gangs just loving this notion. The black market that would develop, and did develop in the wartime U.K., would be a money spinner for criminals. Also you have to wonder about the misallocation of resources that would result from the government direction of industries like farming, transport and food retailing.
Wartime food shortages and government directives forced people to adopt different eating patterns. They ate considerably less meat, eggs, and sugar than they do today.
Rationing was enforced in Britain for 14 years, and continued after the war had ended. Meat was finally derationed in June 1954. Petrol was also rationed, so people stopped buying and using cars, and public transport was limited. There was no “obesity epidemic” as food supply and travel was limited, meaning people ate less and did more physical exercise (walking).
Interestingly, during the years when rationing was enforced, the prevalence of obesity was negligible in the United Kingdom. And waste was minimised as both individuals and government agencies were busy finding new ways of reducing the waste of food resources to a minimum (sustainable consumption).
Is it conceivable that some form of food rationing and portion control may help address the dramatic rise in obesity and the sustainability of our foods supply? If we continue to over-consume foods in unsustainable ways for both our health and our planet, we may be left with no other choice.
Rationing may be tolerated in extreme situations like war but I can't see it going down at all well as a permanent policy. No matter what Ms Davey seems to think to the contrary, people do have the right to decide how they will spend their income and they do not have to put up with being dictated to by the likes of Ms Davey.