2012-06-21 / Letters
Columnist fails to offer any solutions
Every time New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg imposes a new health rule, such as banning indoor smoking and trans fats in fast food, and requiring restaurants to post calorie content, my initial reaction is that he is over-reaching.
Then I think about it, and I realize it is not a big imposition and could have some serious benefits. Then I read something by someone who opposes the measure. That usually clinches my conclusion that Mayor Bloomberg was right. Thank you, Greg Bean, for clinching my opinion that banning sodas over 16 ounces is the right thing to do.
In his recent column, Mr. Bean begrudgingly notes that banning smoking was “probably a good idea” (probably?), but “there’s no empirical evidence that posting those calories or getting rid of trans fats have had any effect on buying habits, and they’ve apparently had absolutely no effect on the gross poundage of his constituents.”
Getting rid of trans fats was not intended to affect buying habits, it was to keep people from eating trans fats, which presumably has been successful.
As for calorie count on fast food menus, I know at least two people who have modified their purchases based on the absurd calorie numbers posted next to the Big Mac. There’s your empirical evidence. In addition to me and my friend, we can also safely assume that of the 12 to 15 million people who live, work or visit New York City every day, a few more modified their purchases based on the calorie count.
We Americans may think we have a God-given right to big gulps of sugar water, but here are some facts to consider: two-thirds of allAmericans are overweight or obese; the Harvard School of Public Health reports a strong link between soda and weight gain. Soda is the largest single source of calories for the average American; one 12-ounce can contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar; the American Heart Association recommends adults consume less than six teaspoons per day.
And what is Mr. Bean’s concern? Well, there’s no limit on fat and salt-laden pastrami, pizza, cream cheese, hamburgers or beer. Moreover, there is the old what’s next?/slippery slope argument implying that eventually we will have gun-toting jack-booted thugs standing over us ensuring we eat our Brussels sprouts.
Mr. Bean, tell me what’s wrong with this step, not the next hypothetical step. There may be reasons why Mayor Bloomberg’s policy is unwise. Mr. Bean has not stated any. Bottom line: we have an obesity epidemic in this country and nobody else seems to be addressing it. Certainly Mr. Bean has no suggestions. You have to start somewhere.