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Knock Off The Warning Label Nonsense

Statists salivate at the opportunity to slap on wasteful warning labels to any behavior they want to deter, including meat consumption.


If Americans need warning labels to keep themselves from drinking the clear liquid from a bottle labeled “bleach,” then an experiment in Darwinism might be in order. Instead, federal officials have become eager to slap on cautionary labels to products that are already obviously bad for us so they can parade themselves as heroes of public health in a performative display of nanny state engineering.

The surgeon general is out with an article in The New York Times this morning calling on lawmakers to require “warning labels” for social media platforms.

“A surgeon general’s warning label, which requires congressional action, would regularly remind parents and adolescents that social media has not been proved safe,” wrote Vivek Murthy. No kidding. Last year, the FBI warned of an estimated half a million child sex predators scrolling platforms online looking to connect with kids aged mostly 15 and younger. Murthy also explained in the NYT that “Adolescents who spend more than three hours a day on social media face double the risk of anxiety and depression symptoms, and the average daily use in this age group, as of the summer of 2023, was 4.8 hours.”

“Additionally, nearly half of adolescents say social media makes them feel worse about their bodies,” Murthy added.

The global prevalence of eating disorders has doubled over the past decade, and the increase has been driven in large part by social media serving up pro-anorexic content for teens within seconds of them being on popular apps such as TikTok. But just as impressionable teens undergoing puberty are uniquely susceptible to body dysphoria, Daily Signal reporter Mary Margaret Olohan chronicled how online platforms are similarly spreading gender dysphoria. In her recent book on detransitioners who underwent hormone therapies and surgeries before 18, Olohan wrote that many were convinced they were transgender through online forums such as Instagram.

“There is a ton of content on Instagram promoting gender ideology and more and more transgender-promoting accounts that push transitioning,” Olohan wrote in Detrans, “and it appears that algorithms on that platform may be pushing transgender material on users.”

Social media’s online forums have substituted real-world community engagement with artificial interfaces, leaving oblivious consumers, particularly children and adolescents, destined to become lonelier than ever. The surgeon general even went on to declare loneliness an epidemic last year, highlighting the parallels between isolation and tobacco use.

“Given the significant health consequences of loneliness and isolation, we must prioritize building social connection the same way we have prioritized other critical public health issues such as tobacco, obesity, and substance use disorders,” Murthy said, explaining poor or insufficient connection increases risk of premature death by more than 60 percent.

But that doesn’t mean social media ought to carry the government-mandated seal of a public health hazard. In fact, it means quite the opposite. Things that are obviously dangerous, such as smoking, don’t need the government to tell us they’re dangerous with wasteful regulation. Most Americans should know by now to monitor their kids’ activity on social media.

Nearly 60 years after tobacco companies were first required to print warning labels on cigarettes to reduce smoking, statists salivate at the opportunity to pull the lever for labels on any other behavior they wish to deter, such as eating meat.

Last fall, a coalition of scientists proposed cigarette-style caution labels be placed on meat products for alleged hazards to the climate and human health. A study examining 1,000 meat-eating adults found labels espousing hazards to climate, health, and pandemics were enough to convince participants to opt for a non-meat meal. Given the success of warning labels at reducing cigarette use, researchers expressed optimism at the potential for similar warnings for deter meat consumption.

A dramatic drop in meat at the center of the American diet, however, offers far worse implications for public health than appreciated by the statist class of academics determined to manipulate behavior. The federal government’s recommendations to embrace a low-fat diet, for example, planted the roots for the twin epidemics of obesity and chronic disease overwhelming the health care system today after three generations dutifully followed the dietary guidelines. Americans increased consumption of grains and processed oils at the behest of the “experts” and now live in a nation where nearly 42 percent of adults 20 and older are obese and 6 in 10 suffer from at least one chronic illness.

[LISTEN: The Nutrition ’Myths’ Fueling The American Obesity Epidemic]

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