Mayor Michael Bloomberg - warrior against obesity -- announced a ban on sugared drinks over 16 ounces to take effect in March of this year.
New York Times:
"Obesity is a nationwide problem, and all over the United States, public health officials are wringing their hands saying, 'Oh, this is terrible,' " Mr. Bloomberg said in an interview on Wednesday in the Governor's Room at City Hall.
"New York City is not about wringing your hands; it's about doing something," he said. "I think that's what the public wants the mayor to do."
A spokesman for the New York City Beverage Association, an arm of the soda industry's national trade group, criticized the city's proposal on Wednesday. The industry has clashed repeatedly with the city's health department, saying it has unfairly singled out soda; industry groups have bought subway advertisements promoting their cause.
"The New York City health department's unhealthy obsession with attacking soft drinks is again pushing them over the top," the industry spokesman, Stefan Friedman, said. "It's time for serious health professionals to move on and seek solutions that are going to actually curb obesity. These zealous proposals just distract from the hard work that needs to be done on this front."
Mr. Bloomberg's proposal requires the approval of the Board of Health, a step that is considered likely because the members are all appointed by him, and the board's chairman is the city's health commissioner, who joined the mayor in supporting the measure on Wednesday.
This is nonsense, and most people are going to see through it. It is a classic American political response to a non-political problem; make it appear that politicians are "doing something about the problem" of obesity when, in actuality, there is no political solution -- at least none that you could get away with in America.
A political solution would be to ban fast food restuarants, all sugary drinks, police the remaining restuarants and force them to offer only healthy, low fat fare, remove high fat foods from grocery shelves, and force citizens to participate in 1 hour of exercise a day. That would solve the problem of obesity in a matter of a few years.
But that's not a realistic scenario so we have the spectacle of Bloomberg touting his ban on large sugared drinks as "doing something." It will not cause a reduction in the obesity rate. Those so inclined will simply buy 2 medium drinks instead of one large one. Or didn't hizzoner think about that?
The key to reducing obesity in the US is educating people to eat well, manage high fat and sweet food intake, and exercise regularly. Government can't do that. Only individuals motivated by concerns about their health -- and the health of their families - can accomplish it.