Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City this month has proposed a ban on restaurants, theatres and food carts regulated by the City selling soft drinks in excess of 16 ounces. This is the latest attack by the Bloomberg administration on the poor dietary and health habits of most New Yorkers (limiting trans fats in most foods, forcing restaurants and other food establishments to post calorie counts on most foods, banning smoking in bars, clubs and restaurants, etc.). Statistics are on the side of the Mayor: 55% of New Yorkers are overweight and this number exceeds 70% in The Bronx; nationally, 68% of Americans are overweight and ½ of those people are obese. Most studies conclude that sugar, particularly larger or super-sized portions of food products containing sugar, is one of the major factors contributing to our obesity crisis. Make no mistake about this: IT IS A CRISIS OF NATIONAL PROPORTIONS! Studies estimate that close to 45% of all Americans will be obese by 2030.
The consequences of being overweight are well known and affect us all. We all know family or friends who have been diagnosed with diabetes or have suffered a heart attack or stroke or liver or gall bladder disease, just to name a few.
Critics of Bloomberg's proposals, dubbing him the food nanny of New York, incorrectly argue that Americans should be allowed in a free country to eat or drink whatever they want in whatever size they want; naturally, the confounding of our civil liberties with our health needs and those of our country is being encouraged, if not financed by the massive food empire in this country. Their arguments fall on deaf ears when one considers the societal and economic implications of an obese America. Last year alone, the Government spent $150 billion dollars to combat obesity and its outcomes. This affects all of us, our health insurance system, its capabilities and most importantly, our costs for health insurance (which are based on the nature of the diseases and numbers of people in the insurance pool). And, the situation promises to get even worse! 32% of our children and adolescents are overweight or obese. One of our nation's leading generals has already deemed the obesity crisis a national security issue, fearing that our armed forces may soon be populated by soldiers who are physically unprepared for the challenges of war and other defense activities. In short, they will be too fat!
If my recent visit to Coney Island is any indicator of our nation's obesity problem, the crisis has already arrived. Almost all of the patrons my children and I observed on Father's Day were obviously overweight and gouging themselves on fried corn dogs or fried bread, cheese and chili hot dogs and 32-64 ounce sodas!
I don't believe that Mayor Bloomberg's proposed ban on supersized soft drinks will change our obesity statistics overnight, but I think we all should tip our hats to a politician who is willing to take on the powerful food industry and its lobbyists, and to do so for an important issue to our nation's health. Romney and Obama should pay attention!
Feel free to pass this issue of the Goldhaber Warnings Report on to any friend or colleague.
Dr. Gerald M. Goldhaber, the President of Goldhaber Research Associates, LLC, is a nationally recognized expert in the fields of Political Polling and Warning Label Research. His clients include Fortune 500 companies, as well as educational and governmental organizations. He has conducted hundreds of surveys, including political polls for candidates running for U.S Congress, Senate, and President. Dr. Goldhaber also served as a consultant to President Reagan's Private Sector Survey for Cost Control.
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