2012-06-14 / Telling It Like It Is

Telling It Like It Is

Does Big Daddy Bloomberg Really Know What’s Best?
By Dara Mormile

You know I have to express my opinion on Mayor Michael Bloomberg's recent attempt to get New Yorkers to become healthier by banning the sale of super-sized sugary drinks. I'm not foolish enough to shovel out the kind of money it costs to go to a movie theater nowadays. I'm also not foolish enough to think that a silly ban will help New Yorkers get “healthier.”

According to the New York Times, the sale of any cup or bottle of sweetened drink larger than 16 fluid ounces – about the size of a medium coffee, and smaller than a common soda bottle – would be prohibited under the first-in-the-nation “sugar drink” ban plan, which could take effect as soon as next March.

The obvious loophole is that anyone can order a smaller drink, and then just get more of them! Consumers are worried, on the whole, that Bloomberg is getting out of hand in controlling the decisions people make when it comes to how they live. You can still choose to be “unhealthy” but the mayor is doing whatever he can to help decrease the obesity rate.

Great, so cracking down on the sale of huge beverages may result in a healthier city?

Let's get real! The mayor seems to be ignoring hundreds of other factors that contribute to New Yorkers being unhealthy.

Have you been to the local Red Lobster or one of the few diners around Canarsie? Patrons are sitting their with plates which have not one, but TWO serving sizes of food. Various studies from the Department of Health and Nutrition recommend that when you go out to eat, you're really only supposed to consume half of what you're served and take the other half home. Many restaurants overload their plates, almost forcing their guests to eat more than the suggested serving size.

I recently went out to a Chinese restaurant with some friends and ordered chicken and shrimp with mixed vegetables and fried rice. Of course I was hungry, but the plate itself was physically HUGE and my food covered it almost completely. Whether the restaurant owners want you to have enough food to take home in a doggie bag isn't the question. The question is, why are they allowed to serve so much food (more than the daily serving allows) when obese patrons can clean their plate in no time?

McDonald's certainly won't ban their popular hamburgers, which are loaded with...who knows what? I don't mean to be rude, but I pass by local Burger Kings, as well as McDonald's, and witness overweight residents indulging in the most unhealthy items on the menus. Thanks for providing us with the choice of crispy and delicious salads (that are highly overpriced, if you ask me), but obese school kids have more fun munching on a large order of fatty French fries than taking a fork to daintily eat a chicken salad while on the go.

As they say, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink it. Even if you offer people a healthier alternative, it doesn't mean they will personally make the choice to BE healthier.

Let's talk about some other things Mayor Bloomberg has overlooked in his attempt to make our city more “healthy.” He established “PlanNYC” and all those wonderful environmental programs to put more trees in communities. His popular smoking ban has also cleared the air, sort of. Have you seen, in black and white on paper, the rates of people dying from various cancers?

It seems, for some reason, people living in the city are suffering from more respiratory illnesses and at younger ages. Most of the health problems were blamed on 9/11 and air quality following the World Trade Center attacks. That doesn't even take into account the population of people who had health issues before 9/11.

Have you ever seen so many inner-city kids with increased cases of asthma? Diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol don't just “happen” because you consume a few super-sized drinks. Whether these health problems are hereditary or result from other environmental factors, they result mostly from personal habits that need to be monitored by one's doctor (and no, Bloomberg hasn't announced that he has any type of medical degree to create this “ban” and Health Commissioner Thomas Farley won't be personally telling you you're hyperglycemic).

This proposed ban might not even make it past the Governor, but it will make people think about who’s really in charge of our health. Is it ourselves?

So load up on the fatty goods when you're out and make sure you order two of those huge sugar-laden soft drinks – just in case the mayor passes your neighborhood and sees you've been misbehaving. Besides, you might be doing something else wrong that he'll want to ban next month...

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