42 Ounce Sodas and Public Health

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a new effort to combat obesity. Much of the proposal was lost in the controversy regarding the recommendation to limit the size of sodas and other sugary drinks.

Last week Mayor Bloomberg announced a New York City Initiative aimed at addressing the growing obesity epidemic. “Reversing the Epidemic: the New York City Obesity Task Force Plan to Prevent and Control Obesity” received attention largely because of its’ recommendations regarding putting limits on the portion sizes of sodas and sweetened drinks, but in reality is a comprehensive report which can serve as a model for all communities grappling with this public health challenge.

Among NYC children ages 6-11, 21 percent are obese. This generation is at risk for premature diabetes, heart disease and death. Long Island is not immune-as a matter of fact there are some communities on LI where the prevalence of obesity may be 25% higher than in NYC. Not only is obesity a health challenge, but it is a threat to our economy by virtue of both direct medical costs and lost worker productivity from obesity related illness.

The NYC Task Force focused on the environmental support of obesity. Food packaging was a major concern. Sugary drinks are the leading cause of excess calorie intake in adults, and are the biggest contributor to the rise in the average daily caloric intake over the past three decades.  Structural support for physical activity was also analyzed, as countries with building and architectural codes supportive of walking, biking and public transportation use have lower levels of obesity.

The Report included recommendations from three active workgroups: Food environment, Physical activity/physical design and City Practices. Examples of these are recommendations are:

  1. Developing “Wellness Councils” in public schools
  2. Installing more water fountains in schools to encourage water/discourage sugary drinks
  3. A “school gardens” initiative
  4. Salad bars in NYC schools
  5. Adopt the “Move to Improve” initiative
  6. Establish a maximum size for sugary drinks
  7. Expand healthy food access in the retail environment
  8. Establish a center to facilitate architecture and construction which encourages physical activity
  9. Create a city wide bicycle network
  10. Offer wellness programs to all NYC employees
  11. Improve the diagnosis of obesity in hospitals, health clinics and schools

Although we can debate the merits of some of these proposals, the importance of the initiative is the proposal to treat obesity as a public health issue, and to approach it as a societal problem with roots in our neighborhood and environment.

Hopefully, communities throughout the country, including Long Island, will take note of New York City’s plans, and discuss how schools, businesses and politicians can work together to fight the epidemic of obesity.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Frank June 05, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Just goes to show you that there is no such thing as individual restraint or discipline. All these Statisitcal Regression analyses by the government prove we're idiots and incapable of regulating food intake. Give us sugar and we'll go to town. Why? our brains run on sugar; we're hardwired for sugar. Sugar is the new crack in the eyes of the government. And because there's no such thing as discipline or responsibility for our own actions, we must have the "Nanny State" to do it for us. And with parental liability, the government will levy fines on you for every scoop of ice cream, each cookie, or donut you feed your child. You're a terrible parent for feeding sugar to your children... shameful.. Have we gone communist? We're allowing the government to dictate all of our daily actions? What happened to "don't tread on me"? I find it repulsive that the "government" has to tell me what to eat, when to sleep, or when to defecate. Sugar is not bad. Lots of sugar is. Education should be the way to go... not regulation. This sugar thing sets a dangerous precedent. What's next? Create laws that limit the sale of red meat to one 8 oz portion a month because it's linked to certain cancers? Limit Bacon sales to the public because of Nitrates? Create laws that limit sun exposure because of the risks of skin cancer? We're going to far... what do we cherish most? i thought it was Freedom, but I could be wrong.
Frank T June 05, 2012 at 04:27 PM
The government regulation and tax of so called unhealthy foods is limitless. In addition this report calls for increased physical activity which is code for raise gas prices so the peons can't drive their big cars. Bloomberg is a global warming nut so that's the next step. He should be impeached.
Candygram for Mongo June 05, 2012 at 04:30 PM
we will pay for it in the future by subsidizing the healthcare costs of others
Frank June 05, 2012 at 04:40 PM
there's always a price for freedom.
Brendan June 05, 2012 at 06:48 PM
THAT is the thing we should stop doing. If they want to eat or drink themselves to death, they can have at it. Stop subsidizing the ill effects of the behavior and you don't have to worry about it any more, the abusers do. And that goes for everything - tobacco, alcohol, etc. Let people do what they want to do and let them deal with the consequences. They will regulate themselves.
Frank June 05, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Excellent point Brendan!
Tony June 06, 2012 at 01:19 AM
Ok you health nuts who think obese people should pay more for their health insurance or care let's suppose I say your shortsightedness in regards to your vegetable laden diet causes you health problems in your 60's and 70's so I, as King of NY, decide you need a more balanced diet and if you don't have a certain amount of protein in your system you will be fined. How does that make you feel? Implausible you say? So was an idiotic, communistic idea like this not more than 15 years ago. This 'obesity epidemic' as the left is labelling it has more to do with a lack of exercise than the evils of that nasty sugar fix. When I was working I'd have at least 1 Big Gulp a day and ate anything I wanted and was actually a little underweight. Now I'm not working and can't exercise and have great difficulty losing weight no matter what or how little I eat.
Frank June 06, 2012 at 02:18 PM
I'm waiting for some wacko medical group to push a nationwide ban on bacon... I guarantee Civil War Part II would erupt. HANDS OFF MY BACON YOU COMMIES!
mb June 06, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Frank - read this because I think bittman sums it up best. http://bittman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/06/limit-soda-for-kids-sake/ And then remember what it was like 30 years ago when smoking was cool and everyone did it and you didn't have to wear a seatbelt.
Frank T June 07, 2012 at 01:17 PM
To Mb, read the comment section I think they sum it up best.
Frank June 07, 2012 at 02:33 PM
@ mb. Like the points on big business and government. But the soda size ban misses the mark: Yeah, sugar is bad in large amounts... but inactivity is worse. Drinking one 16 oz soda while doing nothing but playing Halo is worse than drinking a 32 oz soda after 3 hours of pickup basketball, burning 1500 calories; there's more sweat in your shirt than in the drink. 30 years ago, I remember an active junior society on LI/RVC. Ballparks were filled with kids; playing, running, etc. you couldn't find one ballpark that was empty. nowadays, the parks are grazing fields for geese. Prior to my move, I used to walk by Lister all the time; It's a ghost town compared to past years. Kids are so into onling gaming, texting, and "stuff" that playing a pickup game of football is uncool... unless it's professionally organized with uniforms. Only pick-up games I see anymore are 40-somethings reliving the good ol days. The real problem is the increasing sedentary lifestyle of all its citizens. Even a normal well-balanced diet is murder on someone who does nothing but sit in front of a computer for 8 hours a day. Instead of placing stupid bans on soda size, require more physical activity in schools for our children. Instead of 1 hr of gym, make it 2 hrs. Make at least one sports activity (track, soccer, basketball, football, baseball, softball, etc.) mandatory for all children under the age of 18. that would cure the obesity problem of our youth.
An tUasal Airgead June 07, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Frank June 07, 2012 at 08:07 PM
:-). too bad the gift wrap is not made of real Bacon.
ftptch June 08, 2012 at 09:42 PM
bacon is an absolute gift from whatever higher power there happens to be.
Lloyd June 10, 2012 at 07:51 PM
You notice that no matter how many people are killed by drunk drivers and how many people suffer from alcohol Related diseases, none of these feckless politicians are doing anything to curtail drinking alcohol? They don't have the guts to take on the alcohol and restaurant/bar businesses, but pick on the little guy who wants to enjoy one harmless soft drink. Throw these liberal bums out to the curb and restore our freedom to live by our own rules.
Vincent June 10, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Lloyd: We have Mothers Against Drunk Drivers to speak up for us. And just think. Because of the politicians we can have Mothers Against Mariuana Use next.
Lloyd June 10, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Yeah. And Mothers Against Sexual Intercourse will be popping up its ugly head too. Soon sex will be banned by Bloomberg and his Nannies because it has been deemed unhealthy and disease related/


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