Just about everyone agrees that "prevention" is the way to go as a principle way of achieving good health. The main idea, of course, is to regularly exercise, eat healthy foods, take vitamins and minerals, etc. All these types of prevention fall into the category of "personal responsibility," a nice politically safe form of "prevention" that requires no commitment or resources from the public sector, and you have the added benefit of getting to feel righteous if someone does not control their intake of Twinkies or Baconnettes, and suffers cardiovascular disease.
I suppose this is all well and good, but what about prevention and "public responsibility?" This is where all of a sudden controversy and contention arise when legislators in the public sector are asked to make real structural changes in the law that affect large numbers of people, as opposed to the theory of prevention and "personal responsibility." Often, depending on the issue, indignent restaurant and bar owners, among others, fight vigorous campaigns to forestall this type of preventive approach.
Let's take a look in this regard at New York City. Yes, I know they are not representative of other cities in the United States, and nothing could be less like any aspect of Alaska than New York City, but the public health principles of prevention know no such provincialism--just local political differences.
In 2003 New York City banned smoking in certain public areas. Of course we have done that in Anchorage too. New York City recently banned the use of trans fats in restaurants and bakeries. Those are "hydrogenated" oils that often have a consistency of hard butter, for example, and have gained notoriety for contributing to cardiovascular disease. And now, chain restaurants in New York City--as opposed to small mom-and-pop cafes, are required to post the calorie content of their menu items. If they don't, the city can grab their attention with fines up to $2,000. Now, that's prevention!
Finally, the logical question...when will the Municipality of Anchorage require chain restaurants to post calories for menu items? By the way, the idea of banning restaurant use of trans fats is a heck of a good idea to consider too--let's keep our kids healthy, not to mention our adults.