Last month, Mayor Bloomberg’s groundbreaking yet controversial law to prohibit the sale of super-sized sugar-laden drinks was struck down by a New York judge. The administration intends to appeal, stating that it has the authority to tackle the causes of obesity because upwards of 5,000 New Yorkers per year die as a direct result. This is the latest public health initiative by the Mayor as he tries to improve the city’s residents well-being. Prior efforts included restrictions on smoking, getting restaurants to post calorie counts, barring foods with high trans-fatty acids and encouraging restaurateurs to use less salt. Does the Mayor’s most recent move constitute Food Fascism or are they just Really Good Ideas?
Statistically, one out of every three Americans is defined as being obese. It feels like almost everyone has tried to diet at one time or another which has led to continued growth in the thriving weight loss industry. Unfortunately, despite spending billions of dollars per year, most people fail in their battle against weight gain. This has sparked a Food Fascist movement of weight loss advocates, like Mayor Bloomberg, who want to take some control over your life. “Starting tomorrow, everything changes: You WILL do THIS and you WON’T do THAT. Okay, that sounds good and it will cut down on the calorie intake of a small percentage of people. However, is there a better way to approach weight loss?
Fortunately there is. Instead of trying to exert control over New Yorkers’ eating habits, there is a less radical solution available. As with many problems, it starts with better long term nutritional education, in this case demonstrating where in your diet you are consuming excessive energy content, or calories. Knowing where these pitfalls are and then cutting back or avoiding them altogether, it then becomes easier to cut your calorie intake by twenty to thirty per cent. Simple substitutions are available that will substantially lower your calories without a sharp reduction in portions. As most obese people know, it’s the loss of portion size and subsequent feelings of deprivation that are the critical determinants of weight loss failure. However, with just some basic facts residents of New York can eat healthier and diet more effectively by learning which foods are hurting them the most and then eating less of them. Food Fascism is thus replaced by knowledge and common sense, resulting in a far more desirable goal of dieting and nutrition.
How does this practical approach tie into Mayor Bloomberg’s edict? Though legislating away super-sized drinks may be a good idea, it would be far more useful and longer-lasting to teach the people of New York why.
The writer is a medical doctor and author of a book on weight loss surgery: “I’m Michael and I WAS Fat” available at www.ImLosingToWin.com