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Karen Bergreen Headshot

Sure, Mock Bloomberg But Take Him Seriously

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I won't let my kids eat at McDonald's, at least not until they see Supersize Me. I have no idea if this edict will backfire when they hit their teens and have a little pocket money and a sense of direction. They may end up Big Mac Addicts. Admittedly, they already find the golden arches alluring.

"Mommy, just go to happy-meal-dot-com. Just do it. Pleeeaaasze"
"Luke got the toy, and he didn't have to buy any food. Told you. McDonald's is nice."
"Daddy didn't want us to tell you but he got McDonald's when we were in the car."

They're not allowed soda either or cereals with the word "cookie," "chocolate" or "toast" on the box.

Interestingly, I do, from time to time, give them candy, potato chips, marshmallows, Gatorade, and cookies.

The line differentiating these categories makes little sense to them.

"Why can't we have Oreo O's? We get Oreos."

"Why can't we eat a McDonald's fry? We had one at the diner."

All good points. I'm very proud of their ability to reason. But my answer is always the same. "It's just too much."

As if this were an impressive argument.

It would appear that New York's mayor and I are in the same boat. And I mean that metaphorically, because his real boat is probably a 500-foot yacht and mine is the plastic cup floating in the bathtub. But everyone knows by now that Michael Bloomberg has introduced legislation banning the sale of more than 16 ounces of sugary drinks in a single drinking vessel. According to the mayor, drinking a trough of soda is a major cause of obesity and diabetes and other health problems. Anticipating outcry, he has assured us that we can avoid the traumatic effect of the ban by ordering multiple small drinks.

We can further avoid trauma by eating candy, cookies and donuts.
Yes donuts.
In fact the mayor himself was chowing on one under a tent on National Donut Day.
Why do donuts get the key to the city and the soda gets thrown under the bus?

This was very upsetting to the beverage industry. They were extremely concerned about our losing freedom. So concerned, in fact, that one might have concluded they had not noticed how the mayor's proposal might hurt them financially. What a giving lot they are!

Many of us saw a full-page ad in the New York Times with Mayor Bloomberg dressed as Mrs. Doubtfire. They called him the Nanny.

Don't get me wrong. I am a comic and have had fun with this. The mayor's inconsistent message and his sanctimony make him an easy target.

But at least he cares.

While the beverage industry is making sure we keep our freedom, Bloomberg is trying to keep us alive.

Is he being aggressive ? Yes.
Is he holier than thou? Yes.
Is he too rich, Oh God, yes?

Supporters are saying this is like the smoking ban. We all know it's different from the smoking ban. We're not getting sick from anyone's Big Gulp.
But someone is. Why is the smallest soda container at the movies larger than any plastic water bottle? And for 25 cents more, you can get enough to fill your gas tank.

As a society, we are sick. We have way too much food. Or at least way too much of a certain food. It is still difficult to locate a quinoa salad drowning in quail eggs. But high fructose corn syrup abounds and according to everything, it is killing us.

I don't know if I like Bloomberg's proposal. Like my rules at home, it seems arbitrary. And he is held to a different standard. The big soda at the movies is taboo, yet I can still buy a shoebox full of whoppers. And what about the cholesterol-soaked tubs of popcorn?

There is so much that seems silly about Bloomberg's suggestion, except for the underlying problem. Ultimately, I like that he took advantage of his position as Monarch-in-Chief to make it. Maybe it needs tinkering. Maybe we should charge companies a junk food tax. The tax money could be allocated specifically to fitness opportunities for everyone -- children and adults. I know New Yorkers hated this idea a few months ago, but the problem isn't going away.

So, even if this proposal goes nowhere, let's keep talking about it. The problem is complicated. But that doesn't mean we should dismiss any solution altogether while at the same time covering our ears and screaming "Freedom." The beverage people can cling to their notions of Liberty, but maybe they could offset the damage they do by providing fitness opportunities for all of the kids they are handing diabetes to. Maybe they could provide nutrition information -- and I don't mean the template on the back of everything. I mean real nutrition information to people who really don't know how dangerous this stuff is.