The State of Minnesota will spend $47 million to “focus on individual behavior change” and “creating sustainable, systemic changes that make it easier for individuals to make healthy choices in their daily lives.”

The 14-page list of grant recipients (PDF) mentions “tobacco free” 14 times. No smoking in a public park or in your condo! (Don’t worry: The “smoke-free policies in multi-unit housing” will be “voluntary,” except that they’re a nudge from the hand of government.) I think that smoking is stupid, but this has gone beyond claims of damage from second-hand smoke; it’s meant to protect you from yourself.

Are we next going to see bans on grilling hot dogs (nitrate, fat) or steaks (red meat, you know) in public parks? After all, “nutritious foods” appears 19 times, and “healthy eating” another four. There are four references to “policies and practices that support increased consumption of fruits and vegetables and other nutritious foods in worksites.” You might still be able to bring that bag of chips to your office, but if you have a work cafeteria, it may be “goodbye, fries, hello carrot sticks!”

Expect more spending on bike paths, since “non-motorized transportation” is mentioned 21 times. (Non-motorized? In winter? Did anyone notice that below-zero temperatures are not unusual in the state?) Even tax dollars are limited; I wonder what motorists will think about money being diverted from building roads.

The connection between work and the rest of your life gets strengthened; some grant money is meant to support employee wellness plans (mentioned six times).

The grant list is filled with “policies that support,” “environmental changes” and other words that fly over your head — but which herald a greater role for government in running your life.

The state health commissioner says, “We are the first state in the nation to start with a statewide investment in preventing future health problems.” But in this context, it’s important to note that preventive care doesn’t save money.

(Cross-posted from State House Call.)

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