Jacob Sullum

But given his broad view of the government's authority to "advance the public's health," it's hard to see how Huckabee can rule out such measures, especially since he portrays the "huge epidemic of obesity" as a crisis that threatens the treasury, the economy and even national security. "We keep talking about the war on terror," he said in an August speech to the Southern Governors' Association. "Who's going to fight it if we don't have enough people who are healthy enough to show up and pick up a backpack?"

Like other obesity alarmists, Huckabee warns that poor eating habits and lack of exercise could make American life spans shorter. A lot shorter: "If we continue with this trend," he told CNN in 2006, "within another generation, you'll see kids dropping dead at their desks at the high school."

To avoid that prospect, CNN reported, Huckabee called for "a culture of health," citing four examples "in which concerted public campaigns, aided by government, led to cultural shifts": littering, seat belt use, smoking and drunk driving. Notably, littering, failing to wear a seat belt and driving while intoxicated are all illegal, while smoking is headed in that direction, thanks to Huckabee and like-minded politicians.

For those of us who worry that a President Huckabee would be inclined to force his culture of health on America, there's one consolation: If he's right, Grease Police recruits will be so fat that we'll be able to outrun them easily.

Jacob Sullum

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and a contributing columnist on Townhall.com.
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