When we have a good habit or even more, when we learn one late, we are very willing to ;et government be intrusive about it. If we were taught good habits when young and absorbed them, we see the government teaching them to the the current generation, or even to adults, as something of a kindness. We are happier this way - they will be happier too.
If we learned them while older - if we paid a high cost for those lessons - this intensifies. We know how hard it is to do X, and we want people to have as easy a time as possible to learn to prefer X. At a minimum, we don't want a government that puts impediments in the way of X. We want it to "encourage" X, even if we don't want to go so far as forcing X. Tax breaks, grants, awards are all nice things. They aren't forcing anyone. Until the dollar amounts start taking over budgets and getting folks addicted.
I'm talking about myself, here. I'm focusing on others but I'm seeing it up close and personal.
So we want children to be taught about exercise and good food choices, certainly, because that's education, isn't it? And then we want to be consistent with what we teach so we should make, er, let them exercise. And make good food choices available at school - which isn't working, darn it Jen - so okay, let's get the bad vending machines out. Let's make corporations be socially responsible and build supermarkets with oodles of fresh produce where we want them to while we're at it.
Hey, divorce is worth about 30 pack-years of smoking in terms of life expectancy. Shouldn't we teach children about that? Shouldn't all the Charles Murray life-choices stuff have a more prominent part of the curriculum than...well, just about anything, really? I'm very big on children being taught literature, math, and science, but really - which is going to hurt your life chances more, single parenthood or not learning to tell a dactyl from a spondee? Sex education in the schools? Hell, maybe it should be the only thing we teach them for a few years, so that they stop screwing up their lives. No, let's go for the whole behavioral load: cute partners have bad diseases - after all, other people thought they were cute, just like you do; children mean marriage and staying married; get a job; keep drugs and alcohol light and away from autos; crime costs. Spend a year on those, maybe. Two years. Sixth grade and ninth grade.
Moving on to adults is remarkably quick. We want everyone to have decent health care, not to be excluded just because they can't pay for it - but we find pretty quickly who the expensive ones are, and they do unhealthy things, so maybe we should exclude them if they don't smarten up. Net result: we exclude different people.
I didn't mean to just pick on the healthy-living people. I'm not seeing a lot of difference in teaching children - and then organisations for adults receiving strings-attached money - how to have proper attitudes (defined either conservatively or liberally). Saving energy with alternative-fuel whatevers; nondiscrimination that because increasingly selective and granular; volunteering, support for the arts, PSA's in many colors.
We're all pretty much fine with the nanny state, seemingly. We just argue about whether the nanny should be a Baptist or a Unitarian.