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The Boston Globe

Health & wellness

Daily Dose

Should junk food be regulated like alcohol?

Public health officials now believe that our environment, with its cheap and constant supply of high-calorie junk food, makes it nearly impossible to avoid overeating. In a paper published last week, researchers at the Rand Corporation, a nonprofit research group with headquarters in California, outlined five measures — already used to curtail excess consumption of alcohol — that could be applied to the obesity crisis.

1. Restrict density of junk food. This involves curbing the sale of food in places that aren’t primarily food outlets, such as at schools with vending machines.

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2. Display restrictions. Alcohol can’t be displayed near the door, so why not have regulations mandating where certain junk food can be placed within the supermarket?

3. Portion control. Just as the government has set standard serving sizes for alcohol so people can count how many drinks they have had, legislatures should establish standard serving sizes for restaurant portions.

4. Pricing regulations. Here’s where the soda tax comes in to discourage consumption. The Rand researchers would also like to see higher taxes on french fries, cakes, and candy.

5. Warning labels. Have you seen those new graphic cigarette warnings showing corpses and rotted teeth? How about seeing such images on your favorite chocolate bar or gallon of ice cream? That might make you think twice about digging in.

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