ABSTRACT

Food ethics in an intergenerational perspective avoids the problem of paternalism altogether. This chapter reviews some arguments that attempt to justify interfering with individual food choices without appealing to a paternalist rationale. It examines epidemiological and social-science rejoinders to the anti-paternalist liberal argument. The chapter highlights weaknesses in these counter-objections, following Del Savio. It deals with the evidence from social epidemiology of connections between nutrition in parents and susceptibility to adult disease in their children and grandchildren. The chapter reviews recent findings on the molecular correlates of these processes, that is to say, epigenetic phenomena. It presents two non-paternalistic arguments for state interference with food choices, based, respectively, on social justice and intergenerational justice. In a recent Nature comment, Sarah S. Richardson and colleagues warn against the tendency to popularize findings in developmental origin of health and disease (DOHaD) and epigenetics that lend support to moralize the behavior of pregnant mothers.