New York City has done it again! Mayor Bloomberg (or as some call him, NYC's Nanny-In-Chief) and his City Health Department has declared war on oversized restaurant portions. Beginning this month, over 1000 posters, printed in both English and Spanish have plastered the New York Subway system showing the relationship between supersized hamburgers, fries and sodas and Type 2 Diabetes and obesity. According to the Health Department, all of these posters illustrate the steady increase in sizes of soda cups and other fast foods against backdrops of unhealthy people including a diabetic man who is missing most of one leg. The image (See Figure 1), as seen at night, draws attention to the amputated leg. Other posters (See Figures 2 and 3) show the increases in size of both portions of French Fries and Cheeseburgers are related to the increases in obesity and diabetes and their devastating consequences.
Dr. Thomas Farley, the city's Health Commissioner has stated, "The portion sizes that are marketed are often much more than humans need. We are warning people about the risks of supersize portions so they can make more informed choices about what they eat." Naturally, the American Beverage Association doesn't like the Bloomberg administration's tactics. Stefan Friedman, spokesman for the Association told the New York Times, "Portion control is indeed an important piece of the solution to obesity. But instead of utilizing scare tactics, the beverage industry is offering real solutions like smaller portioned containers and calorie labels that show the number of calories in the full container, right up front, to help people choose products and sizes that are right for them and their families." A defiant Mayor Bloomberg defended the graphic posters, "What do you want to do? Do you want to have people lose their legs? Or do you want to show them what happens so that they won't lose their legs? Take your poison. Which do you want?" The Mayor, who has previously attacked trans fats, smoking and forced restaurants to post calories and fat portions, cites statistics that show 57% of New Yorkers are either overweight or obese (it's almost 2/3 of the rest of the country). The Mayor may have a point. A recent federal study showed that childhood obesity in NYC has dropped by 5.5% in the past two years, bucking a national trend. Perhaps the City's aggressive efforts to fight obesity are starting to show positive results. The industry should actually applaud the Mayor's campaign because it may have an indirect benefit to them by limiting successful lawsuits against them claiming the public hasn't been warned about the harms of eating their oversized fast foods. Remember what your mother told you: "Eat Your Vegetables!"
Feel free to pass this newsletter on to any interested friends or colleagues and on behalf of all of us at Goldhaber Research Associates, we wish you and yours a very happy and SAFE holiday season.
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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