The New York Times recently featured a picture of Mayor Bloomberg photo-shopped so that he looked more like a version of Mrs. Doubtfire than a politician, according to a New York Post commentary on the subject. It’s interesting to note who paid for the super-sized ad in The Times. The non-profit group, Center for Consumer Freedom is a Washington D.C. based group, backed by food and restaurant industry leaders. A list of their corporate donors cannot be had. The group is previously associated with opposing bans on tobacco use and smoking in restaurants and bars, and according to public information, was created back in 1995 with monetary backing from Phillip Morris. It is often found fighting any efforts that government makes to control the food and beverage industry.
What is known is that prior donors and funders include Coca-Cola and Wendy’s. If you look at the website you’ll find a mission statement that includes “providing research and education.” The group is not a fan of PETA and according to the New York Post column, when asked about supporting or funding of this recent New York Times ad, the executive director suggested that “broad based support funded the ad and not the soft-drink industry.” The New York Post article went on to suggest that the group claims its mission is to “point out hypocrisy and overreaching and junk science.” The director then suggested that the Mayor’s move is “the ultimate nanny move.”
Commentators have offered that at least Mayor Bloomberg has defined the problem, though sometimes that doesn’t yield an easy solution. Many feel a tax on soda would have more finite merit and impact in the war on obesity. Trying to take away larger sodas that actually cost less as they get bigger, flies in the face of financial sense. Adding cost to the drinks that we feel are adding to the burden of obesity may indeed make more sense. But passing a soda tax has not happened, despite several attempts by lawmakers and consumer advocacy groups. Let’s not forget that some are calling obesity a national safety crisis, because the young individuals applying to the military can’t make the grade needed physically to enter the army or navy. They weigh too much. So with all the yodeling about nanny state, we are experiencing nationwide, a healthcare crisis, a work quality and performance crisis, and a quality of life crisis, all related to our girth. Want a big soda now? You can still buy two to equal the one. It seems that Mayor Bloomberg merely wants you to “stop and think” before you indulge beyond a 16 ounce sugary drink that already has a blast of calories and sugar sure to tilt your daily calories over the recommended total, if you have more than one. Is that really such a bad idea?
It should also be noted that The New York Post featured a young first grader who, prodded by seeing Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution series, petitioned her school principal to get rid of chocolate flavored milk and plastic wrap on breakfast muffins. She saw friends pouring the sweetened milk on their cereal and decided that “it wasn’t good.” She admits to recognizing her own cravings but also has now begun to understand what’s healthy. Maybe we need to fight this obesity battle using kids as poster children for change. Maybe, just maybe, the Mayor of New York City needs a minion of kids to spread his health messages!!