This week, a New York State judged overturned Bloomberg’s controversial ban on the consumption of large sugary drinks. Correction, Bloomberg calls it a “portion control measure”, not a ban. The ban was to go into effect on Tuesday of this week and and would have limited consumers of sugary beverages to less than 16 ounces.
Listen, I am glad Bloomberg’s is concerned about the childhood obesity problem. But his approach is wrong on so many levels. Here is a link to his remarks.
1) Arbitrary and capricious. Bloomberg is right when he observes that when people are presented with a big drink, they drink more. The same is true of food –the presence of never ending chips at Mexican restaurants, the all you can eat bread sticks at Olive Garden, how about the gallon of ice cream, or the dozen donuts that might cause you to overeat, etc. Are we now going to limit portions of food as well? And the proposed ban did not include diet soda, coffee drinks, milk or milkshakes, fruit and vegetable juices or alcoholic beverages. Singling out one item is arbitrary and capacious-the reason the ban was overturned.
2) Promote healthy eating but don’t send the Twinkie Police. I do see a role for government when it comes to overseeing programs it pays for, promoting healthy eating and exercise. We should know what is in our food and be given education about food. But come on, sending the Twinkie Police to my house…go fight real crime!
3) Deprivation as a food strategy doesn’t work. Even if we could be successful in getting carrot sticks in all school vending machines, this doesn’t mean kids will eat them. I’m not opposed to the idea, but think that the more you make a big deal about deprivation, the more people want it. When we are told we can’t have something, we want it all the more. Before the ban was overturned, I wouldn’t be surprised if people were stockpiling 2 liter bottles of soda!
4) Look at WHY we eat. Most of us overeat and grab the unhealthy choice because we are tired, bored, happy, sad, or feeling any number of emotions. We eat to calm stress, to deal with rejection, to celebrate the job, etc. Getting at why we eat is part of the battle too. When food works to calm us down or soothe us and we don’t have other ways to do those things, we probably aren’t going to make better choices. More education doesn’t fix emotional issues.
5) Obesity is a complicated fix. There are multiple contributors to this problem. Regulating sodas isn’t going to fix it. It’s going to take Hillary Clinton’s village again…We need the food industry to cooperate, schools to do better, parents to take responsibility, science to contribute to a better understanding of why some people struggle more than others, etc. There are so many pieces to this puzzle. Government can educate us and keep promote healthy habits, but we have to examine our own lives and decide what to do and what kind of help we need. Some people need support to lose weight, not a ban of sodas; others need medical intervention, exercise programs, approaches for stress reduction, access to better foods, playgrounds that are safe, bike paths in their communities, etc.
Bottom Line: Give us the tools to make informed decisions, but don’t make them for us.
So mayor, keep informing us, print the calories and keep the food regulators honest, but don’t overstep your reach.