What's bothering you? That's what the government decided to find out when it launched a $10-million study, "The Primary Causes of Unhappiness," in 1994. Mental-health professionals throughout the country conducted more than six thousand interviews during which subjects were asked to list those problems causing them the most concern and worry. The recently released results of this government study found that the primary cause of mental distress in this nation is government studies.
Almost 80 percent of all respondents indicated that information provided to them by government studies had three or more times been the cause of significant distress and had caused them to alter behavior that they had previously enjoyed. Most subjects reported that they had been happy or relatively happy with their livers until learning of the dangers that they faced. For example, more than $85 percent of all persons interviewed for this study claimed they had little or no knowledge of the existence of the ozone layer until being informed that it might be disappearing, and they had previously never been concerned about it at all. A similarly high percentage of respondents reported having little or no concern about global warming causing rising tides until made aware of this by government studies.
The general unhappiness caused by government studies reached into the home and workplace. Almost 100 percent of all persons interviewed reported that they had never or almost never been concerned about using microwave ovens, cell phones, or living in proximity to power lines until government studies raised issues of potential dangers. In particular, respondents reported that they had suffered depression, worry, anxiety, and general unhappiness after reading government studies concerning the effects on their health of the most commonly enjoyed foods. According to this study, at least half the people queried had given up or significantly decreased their consumption of the foods they most enjoyed. They had reduced intake of most sugar-based products, particularly chocolate, as well as most fried foods, foods containing saturated fats, foods grown or raised on farms using pesticides or chemical fertilizers, and foods resulting from any form of genetic engineering. They had also significantly reduced or eliminated drinks containing sugar or caffeine. They reported being fairly to very upset by government studies indicating that sugar was potentially dangerous while sugar substitutes were potentially even more dangerous.
Conversely, the respondents had significantly increased consumption of foods whose taste they most often described as "poor to cardboard." The study also found that those people interviewed had moderately to significantly changed their normal behavior patterns due to government studies. In many cases they reported that they had reduced time spent on "enjoyable" activities, including watching television, while increasing the amount of time spent on "less enjoyable" activities, such as exercise.
The government study concluded that the elimination of government studies might significantly improve the mental health of citizens. But it also recommended that further studies be funded to consider the consequences of such an action.