With the rise of obesity and overall decline in public health outcomes, government regulation (taxation, quantity regulation, bans, etc.) of food and beverages has become an increasingly discussed policy tool to improve health outcomes for Americans. The tension between consumer choice and government regulation plays out in a variety of public policy fields, and food regulation is one of them. The purpose of analyzing economic theory, data, and examples is to ground discussion of government intervention in the language used by policymakers. The following sections will provide background information on the economic concepts of externalities and substitute goods, as well as prominent examples of government regulation of food/beverages and the relative success or failure of those policies.