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While reactions to Bloomberg’s soda ban continue to effervesce, those truly concerned with the public’s health would be well advised to hold their praise.

Yesterday the New York City Board of Health approved Mayer Bloomberg’s controversial plan to ban large-sized sugary drinks. Across the web, the ban has sparked a range of debates. Proposed in an effort to curb obesity, many are concerned about how far the government should go in controlling people’s individual health choices; others wonder about its effectiveness in achieving smaller waistlines.

Back in April, Toronto based family physician, Ritika Goel, wrote about her encounter with the Mayor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. As Goel writes, Bloomberg is well known in public health circles for spearheading a variety of health-related initiatives. Unfortunately, when questioned about one most fundamental determinants of health, income-inequality, Bloomberg was quick to dismiss its existence, let alone acknowledge its significance for improved population health.

For those of us concerned with improving the public’s health, Goel’s article about her experience meeting the Mayor should be carefully considered. For whether the soda ban policy is a step in the right direction ultimately depends on the wider policy approach within which it is enacted. And given Bloomberg’s failure to recognize the health importance of the socio-political context, we have great cause to be wary.

This piece is cross-posted at Healthy Policies

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Comment Preferences

  •  Many bans on private behavior are to raise revenue (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    When governments start targeting specific groups to penalize and attach healthy fines along with it, I believe these bans are for fattening city coffers.

    What about all the other more unhealthy foods being served everywhere? This ban needs to be challenged. The smoking bans are getting out of hand and who knows where cities will stop with this new food crusade. We taxpayers have the right to live our lives without this level of government intrusion and control. I wish these cities would micromanage gun sellers in the same way.

    •  and for the pleasure of control freaks. (0+ / 0-)

      These people get a visceral thrill out of punishing people they see as "less than" themselves.

      First they punished people who smoke.
      Then they punished people who put salt on their food.
      Then they punished people who ate "bad" fats.
      Now they're punishing people who drink big sodas.

      Now personally I love soda, but in smaller doses and less often: one or two cans a week, and a regular-sized glass full when eating out.  I find the idea of drinking a half gallon at one sitting unappetizing, and drinking that half gallon over the course of a few hours or a day uninteresting.  

      But dammit, what's more unhealthy than drinking a gallon of soda at one sitting, is the entire mentality of puritanism and control-freak-ism that seeks to punish people for their private behaviors.  

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Fri Sep 14, 2012 at 08:32:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I stopped smoking after they raised the tax (0+ / 0-)

    I stopped a 25 year smoking habit after my state raised the tax on cigarettes.

    I say this to drive home the point that actions taken by the state can have a positive outcome on public health.  Even though the tax increase did nothing about reducing income equality.

    The author is correct that disparities in income have a large effect on health outcomes.  However, the author is incorrect that the only meaningful public health initiatives are those that reduce disparities in wealth.

    On average, regular consumers of large-sized sugary beverages can be expected to suffer a greater incidence of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cerebrovascular disease than those folks who don't favor such beverages.  The increase in health care costs due to the greater incidence of these chronic diseases fall largely on the tax-payers.  I think it is entirely appropriate for the tax-payers to seek to offset some of these higher costs by using the power of taxation.

    Tax-payers have used this same technique for years to offset the expense of treating the health problems of cigarette smoking, and most people approve of this.  And as I started out saying, it was one of those tax increases that provided me with the motivation to make a significant and healthful change in my habits.

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Fri Sep 14, 2012 at 07:02:46 AM PDT

  •  THE CURE FOR OUR ILLS (0+ / 0-)

    Is universal medical care.  Medicare for all, Single Payer, magic wands, whatever.  Get the kiddies to a doctor on a regular basis.  Let the pros lecture him about his diet, not the pols.  Bloomie, typical conservative, goes for cheap, low effort, band -aid patches.  Higher taxes on cigarettes, ban sugary drinks, no spitting in the gutter.  Fixing things requires WORK, not police actions.

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