Friday 18 January 2019

Ration books

The IEA's Chris Snowdon tries to live by the ration book that The Lancet's public health people would impose on the UK.

First up, the recommended diet, from page five of their report.

I like that they have a 31 gram ration of sweets.* 

Anyway, Chris does his best. But it doesn't look all that appealing. 
Here's breakfast:
And lunch
And, finally, dinner for a hungry Chris.

As Chris points out, it's nice that this crowd has outlined an end-goal for once rather than the series of nibbles that always otherwise come with denials that there's a next step just around the corner. The report recommends measures like zoning bans on unhealthy food outlets, taxes and subsidies, reduced choice, reduced portions - and some non-daft things like finally getting water and effluent pricing right. But they have the whole thing back-to-front. 

Food choices shouldn't be targets. They should be the outcomes that emerge when distortionary subsidies are removed and when environmental effects are properly worked into prices. I'd be surprised if models that appropriately incorporated full environmental costs didn't result in changes in those choices. But you don't force it by nudges and shoves to get particular menus; you just make sure that prices incorporate costs properly and let people make whatever choices they want within that. 

* We can thank them for increasing the chocolate ration from 20 grammes to 30. 


  1. Am I right in thinking that the recommendation is 7g of protein from pork, not 7g of pork?

    1. It looks like it's total weight of pork, not protein embodied in that portion. But I could be wrong - it isn't very clear. The footnote there just says you can substitute among the different meats. It would be a bit odd for a purported menu to make the user work out the mass allowed to get the allotted protein contribution though.