Mayor Bloomberg: Health Crusader or Nanny State Despot?
NEW YORK, June 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to bar restaurants, movie theaters, sports arenas, food carts and bodegas from selling sodas and other sugary drinks in servings larger than 16 ounces; he believes that this ban will signal an effective way to fight obesity in a city that spends billions of dollars a year on weight-related health problems.
To many, this proposal seems like an authoritarian, nanny state mandate. Why target sugary drinks, when they are just a small part of a seemingly insurmountable problem? And why attempt to restrict consumer choice in the process? But perhaps the larger question should be at what point does high cost of public health undermine our growing appetites? The country is raising a generation of children with a frightening rate of childhood obesity which becomes a valid public health concern, especially given the cost of treating diabetes and other obesity-related illnesses. In fact, we now live in an age where children born in the year 2000 or later are not expected to outlive their parents. Good habits start young so perhaps Americans do in fact need Michael Bloomberg’s ‘Nanny State’ measures if nothing else then to help guide our country’s future generations toward developing better eating habits.
“I congratulate Mayor Bloomberg for taking a stand on the issue of this country’s widespread obesity epidemic,” states lifestyle and stress expert Paul Huljich. “His ban on oversized sugary beverages boils down to one essential solution to the problem: portion control. This debate certainly unearths the awareness that we must eat and drink responsibly in order to live healthy lives and portion control is a practical and smart first step.”
In recent years, soda has emerged as a battleground in efforts to counter obesity. Across the nation, some school districts have banned the sale of soda in schools, and some cities have banned the sale of soda in public buildings. The fact is that 36 percent of Americans are obese; treatment for obesity costs the country $190 billion a year. In a very real sense, obese Americans’ lifestyle choices burden all tax payers. And one of the primary drivers of America’s obesity problem since the 1970s has been the excessive and growing consumption of sugary drinks. Sugary drinks have been the largest single contributor to the increase in Americans’ calorie consumption over the past three decades. Soft drinks deliver roughly half the added sugar in the average American’s diet. But some Americans consume much more than others. Teenage boys, for example, now drink an average of 273 calories in sugary drinks every day. And, unlike with solid bad-for-you foods, public-health experts theorize that people don’t tend to cut back on calories elsewhere after consuming a lot of soda. That is among the reasons it’s unsurprising that consuming sugary drinks is associated with weight gain and diabetes.
Under the tutelage of Mayor Bloomberg, New York has passed other regulations aimed at making food sold in the city healthier. In 2006, it became the first major city to ban the use of artificial trans-fats in restaurant cooking. In 2008, New York City health officials passed a regulation requiring many chain restaurants to post calories on menus.
In an editorial to USA Today, Mayor Bloomberg–the 108th Mayor of New York City– stated, “Bold actions to protect the public’s health always stir controversy at first. Smoke-free bars and restaurants, trans-fat restriction and calorie posting in restaurants were all met with skepticism, but are now widely popular in New York City. They are also saving many lives each year, and life expectancy in New York City is outpacing that of the United States.”
A balanced and healthy diet is crucial to good health and overcoming stress. In his forthcoming book called Stress Pandemic, Paul Huljich shares a simple and holistic approach to nutrition and eating responsibly, paying added attention to the effects of what we eat on our neurochemistry. “Ensuring that we are supporting a healthy neurochemical balance is a vital and proactive step toward managing our stress,” Mr. Huljich asserts. “When people feel stressed out, most either stop eating altogether or binge on high-fat, high-sodium products or sugary foods and drinks. And when combined with America’s growing portion sizes, people grow sicker, gain weight and develop bad habits that can endure a lifetime unless they say ‘NO’ and take charge of what and how they eat.”