Weighing In - On "Nanny Bloomberg"
New York's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has created quite the buzz with his proposal to regulate the size of sugary drinks available for consumption in certain markets in the city. The ban would prohibit the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces.
Opponents to the ban say this limits personal freedom and creates a nanny state. Proponents say this is a step in the right direction.
In other New York news, the space shuttle rode on a barge under the Verrazano bridge at the lower end of Manhattan yesterday. People gathered along the shore to watch and take photos. A reporter interviewed several people at the scene, including two young brothers, one of whom shared his aspiration to be an astronaut. He looked to be a pretty typical nine year old, smiling for the camera.
The little boy is obese. His brother is also obese. His father is obese, too.
This little boy has a 1 in 3 chance of developing diabetes. His childhood obesity puts him at very high risk of being an obese adult. There's a good chance he will be plagued by chronic disease, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer, arthritis, sleep apnea, and joint pains. He will likely die at an earlier age than his father.
Very few little boys will grow up to be astronauts, and that's not entirely dependent on their body weight as nine year olds. But consider this young boy with a universe of possibility whose potential will be limited if he has a lifetime of chronic disease to manage. Chances are he won't be an astronaut, or a baseball player, policeman, fireman, or soldier, either.
The responsibilities of the mayor of New York do not include monitoring how much Coca Cola this family consumes on any given Sunday afternoon. But they do include providing a clean place to live with a functioning health care system, maintaining streets and public transportation, and insuring public safety. So consider this:
In a time when 70% of Americans and 60% of New Yorkers are overweight and obese, when 30% of our children are overweight and obese... who will be fit enough to do the work of our cities? Who is going to put out the fires, patrol our streets, clean our parks and build our houses?
In a time when the costs of obesity are measured in the billions of dollars annually and no state has reversed the increasing numbers of obese citizens... Who is going to be healthy enough to work to pay the bills?
In an economy where corporate profits are dollars earned by making people sick and treating their illness... where relentless junk food marketing to children has contributed to the highest childhood obesity rate in human history... where governments act in accord with big industry, subsidizing our consumption of processed foods and meats... Who will take a stand for common good in the absence of common sense?
Is the answer Nanny Bloomberg? I'm not sure how much this will change things. I'm not sure any government is up to the job. A nanny is charged with a child's well being when parents have other priorities. But when it comes to caring for our children's health - we send them out alone and leave a key under the mat. When it comes to our children's health, someone has to be there. So if a nine year old New Yorker goes to the movies and it takes a law to stand between him and a 32 ounce, 364 calorie soda, I 'm all for it.