Food Bans Move to the Fore of New York City Mayoral Race

The mayor's race in New York City is anyone's to win. Who will be the victor? My money's on the anti-Bloomberg.

New York City’s mayoral race is heating up as the city enters the dog days of summer.

Disgraced former House Rep. Anthony Weiner has quickly erased the lead of the former frontrunner, City Council chair Christine Quinn, since entering the race just seven weeks ago. But now polls show a third candidate, former city comptroller Bill Thompson, has moved into a near-statistical tie with both Weiner and Quinn.

Thompson is largely an unknown even within the city. Weiner’s name is virtually synonymous with damaged goods. And Quinn is increasingly viewed in an unfavorable light. Her new autobiography, released late last month in a move timed to boost her campaign, instead sold an embarrassing 100 copies in its first week.

In a race that appears to be anyone’s to win, it may be that (shockingly) issues decide the race.

And it may also be that the candidate who appears most unlike the increasingly unpopular incumbent, Michael Bloomberg, will be New York City’s next mayor.

For many New Yorkers, Bloomberg is synonymous with his proposed soda ban. So while he spends his last days in office struggling to force a court to overturn a judge’s earlier ruling that scrapped his ban, what are Quinn, Weiner, and Thompson doing to distinguish themselves from Hizzoner?

Earlier this week, Quinn—who opposes the soda ban—floated a plan of her own that’s in many ways indistinguishable from Bloomberg’s.

Quinn told an audience outside the Union Square greenmarket (note: no cheese slicing allowed) that if elected she would ban any kids’ meal for sale by a chain restaurant in the city that contains more than 650 calories, 7 grams of saturated fat, and 740 milligrams of sodium.

“You’ll still be able to order whatever you think is right for your children,” said Quinn, according to the NY Post. “But we’re saying that companies can’t spend millions of dollars on marketing or include items on children’s menus if those foods clearly are going to lead to obesity.”

I reached out by email to a public-health scholar who had replied to a tweet of mine critical of Quinn’s proposal.

“Health departments and policymakers want to take action to reduce obesity, but citizens want to make their own decisions on what to eat—I like Quinn’s plan because it allows both,” says Daniel Taber, an assistant professor with the University of Texas School of Public Health (who notes the opinion is his own alone).

Taber agrees with Quinn that what I and others have labeled a food ban of Bloomberg-sized proportions is nothing of the sort.

“If you’re gonna send that message to parents that this meal is good for a child,” says Quinn, failing to explain where McDonald’s (or its competitors) ever claimed its Happy Meal is good for a child, “we’re going to make sure that we actually know it’s good for a child.”

While the Post says Quinn’s plan “could sound the death knell for McDonald’s cheeseburger Happy Meal, which packs 875 milligrams of sodium,” I believe her plan is a foolhardy one that may instead sound the death knell for her own campaign.

Weiner’s status as a sort of anti-Bloomberg is largely a wild card. While critics like Quinn note that during his dozen years in Congress he “wrote only one bill that was ultimately signed into law,” given the laws Congress tends to introduce and pass, I think Weiner deserves credit rather than scorn for his legislative restraint.

What’s his stance on Bloomberg’s soda ban or Quinn’s Happy Meal ban, or for that matter any other food ban?

No one appears to know, save Weiner.

The National Journal reports Weiner “hasn’t waded into the battle over Big Gulps.” But the magazine also reports Weiner has been busy “positioning himself more as a libertarian,” which offers a meager hint he’d oppose both Bloomberg’s and Quinn’s ban—and any like them.

Weiner didn’t respond to my tweet asking him to comment for this column on the issue.

So all we’ve got are the National Journal's clues and this recent interaction with a future voter, courtesy Buzzfeed:

“Any new laws you want passed,” asked Weiner as he bent down to speak to a child at a Queens beach last weekend. “Anything to do with dessert?”

“The child was silent,” reports Buzzfeed. Phew.

Thompson, the unknown who easily has my favorite celebrity support (in the form of a YouTube video by salsa musician Willie Colón, “Bill Thompson Transformando Neuva York,” that manages to squeeze one minute of music and video into two minutes of airtime), also has the best and most blunt response so far to Mayor Bloomberg’s soda ban.

“Today’s ruling unmasks Mayor Bloomberg’s misguided soda ban policy for what it is: a cosmetic solution to a complex problem,” Thompson wrote after a state judge struck down the ban in March. “To solve the serious health challenge of our city, we need leadership, not gimmicks.”

After twelve years of the latter under Mayor Bloomberg, New Yorkers appear increasingly to thirst for the former.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...if elected she would ban any kids’ meal for sale by a chain restaurant in the city that contains more than 650 calories, 7 grams of saturated fat, and 740 milligrams of sodium.

    “You’ll still be able to order whatever you think is right for your children,” said Quinn, according to the NY Post.

    Wait, what? She's banning the kids' meal but you're still going to be able to order it if you want? Am I reading this wrong or is she going to bring a workable paradox to the Big Apple?

    Also, is Bloomberg unpopular in the city? I will feel a little better about the people of New York if that's true.

  • Hyperion||

    The only thing I have heard from NYers that would indicate any disappointment in the little dictator would be, is that he has less money than David Koch. They seem to be obsessed with that.

  • fredtyg||

    I'd feel better about New Yorkers if they broke away from Bloomberg, but my guess is they'll elect the candidate most like him despite claims to the contrary.

    Kinda like the majority of Californians who seem pretty much soulmates to New Yorkers. Californians bitch and moan about their elected officials but then re- elect the same ones time after time.

  • Hyperion||

    Well, you know, because else, Rethuglicans...

  • Free Society||

    I'd feel better if an angry mob had him tarred and feathered. Only then would my respect for New Yorkers resume pre-Bloomberg levels.

  • Curtisls87||

    There are those of us here, who have voted in every election for someone who was not elected. My votes for senators have never gone to the winners because I'd rather impale myself on a pike than support either of those two hags.

  • Lord Humungus||

    jeebus, kids need fat for their growing bodies. That's all I feed my mine workers - fat rendered from my tannery plant.

  • Robert||

    I think it means you can still order it, it just can't be labeled a kid's meal.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Ah. That's stupid.

  • Robert||

    Well...that's actually the basis of nearly all food & drug law, worldwide. There are controlled substances, but aside from those, everything else about it is what you can sell things as. Theoretically you can sell any non-controlled material to someone as long as you don't intend it as a food or drug. Nearly all the contention is about what you can legally say about the product you're promoting.

  • Free Society||

    Like the German guy who was selling old Edison style tungsten light bulbs and marketed them as "heat orbs", since the bulbs generate more heat than light he was able to get around the ban.

  • Warrren||

    Orb is a fun word.

  • Robert||

    That's a serious issue for Easy Bake ovens.

  • plusafdotcom||

    Here's an idea for McDonald's...

    rename the meals from "Kid's Meals" to "Meals for Small, Medium and Large People."

    Then it's not "bad for kids," but any "small people" who want or need to put on some pounds would be able to do so, or Large People wanting to lose some pounds could order the "Medium People Menu" items...

    Such freedom of choice would be illegal in today's NYC.

    Vote! ABB--- Anyone But Bloomberg...

    That is, unless you want your government to make ALL decisions for you...

  • PH2050||

    My friend and I had a taxi driver call him "Gloomberg", he said a lot of drivers hate the guy.

  • Hyperion||

    Weiner has been busy “positioning himself more as a libertarian

    Whaa... the ... fuck??? I am still asleep and dreaming that I am reading some dream version of Reason, or am I really awake and just read Weiner and Libertarian in the same sentence?

  • Cancer||

    Yeah, this column is a mess, no, a catastrophe. If you knew zero about the NYC mayor race and then you read this column, you would still know zero.

    It has the quality standard of a Bok cartoon.

  • Robert||

    Is it possible you'd know even less?

  • Free Society||

    By comparison to Bloomberg, Wiener could be mistaken for a libertarian by the statist masses of NY.

  • anon||

    Weiner has been busy “positioning himself

    Phrasing!

  • Live Free or Diet||

    she would ban any kids’ meal for sale by a chain restaurant in the city that contains more than 650 calories, 7 grams of saturated fat, and 740 milligrams of sodium.

    Leaving aside the whole "calorie" thing...

    American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1989 Nov;50(5):1095-103
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2816794
    After 15 years the study found:
    (a) Alive men had consumed 8.7% more fat than men who had died.
    (b) Alive men had consumed 18.1% more fat than men who had died of heart disease.
    (c) Alive men had consumed 7.4% more saturated fat than men who had died.
    (d) Alive men had consumed 21.4% more saturated fat than men who had died of heart disease.

    No Benefit Seen in Sharp Limits on Salt in Diet
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05.....ef=health&

  • anon||

    You assume she wants citizens alive.

  • Hyperion||

    If she's a Democrat, of course she wants citizens alive, moar revenue.

  • anon||

    Depends; also more mouths to feed for votes.

  • Hyperion||

    It's a delicate balance that only big government can manage.

  • From the Tundra||

    “To solve the serious health challenge of our city, we need leadership, not gimmicks.”

    Candidate Thompson agrees with you. Who knew it was just the wrong Top Men?

  • Hyperion||

    Well, you know, what they really need is the all new and improved, Libertarian Weiner, I l'old.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    You assume she wants citizens alive.

    You're right. I don't particularly care if NYCers live, why should I assume she does either?

  • Hyperion||

    You need fat in your diet. The entire low fat fad is stupid. Besides the fact that it's not fat that will make you fat, but excess carbohydrates.

  • anon||

    But it's so easy to sell people on the idea that fat makes you fat.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    You need fat in your diet. The entire low fat fad is stupid. Besides the fact that it's not fat that will make you fat, but excess carbohydrates.

    One look at the digestive systems of carnivores and herbivores should be enough to realize to realize what your guts are telling you: Eat like a predator, not like prey!

  • ||

    And pasta has been unfairly singled out. I find it ironic that Italians weigh less, on average, that most Europeans. I can't find that link to The Economist which had Holland and Italy as the top two if memory serves me correct.

    And lower obesity apparently:

    http://www.oecd.org/health/49716427.pdf

    http://www.nationmaster.com/gr.....th-obesity

    Obviously, it's HOW you consume it. Here, we tend to eat it as a means to an end, whereas in Italy it's part of an overall healthy diet.

    That, and from what I've observed, Italians (like most Mediterraneans I would think) go for a nice, long, relaxing walk in the Piazza after dinner.

    That helps burn off excess anything.

  • PH2050||

    Good points.

    I think it's possible, due to our lack of knowledge concerning epigenetics, that certain ethnic groups will, on average, possess certain adaptations to certain foods. A few seem to cause inflammatory reactions in my current body so I avoid them but many people have no such issue. I look forward to the results of research being done in this area.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    And pasta has been unfairly singled out.

    Starches are a case of the cure taking more than to have simply maintained. Fructose and alcohol are the big problems, refined starches are lesser ones.

    That helps burn off excess anything.

    Study after study have shown exercise is remarkably ineffective for weight loss.

  • ||

    Live free, interesting about the exercise.

    A nice walk after dinner is just that... a walk then?

  • Live Free or Diet||

    A nice walk after dinner is just that... a walk then?

    Exercise is good for you. It stimulates mitochondria replacement, for instance. And who wants leaky old mitochondria? :-/
    It just isn't much good for losing weight.

  • PH2050||

    I suspect if more people were exposed to the process of stripping fat from foods, they would avoid all the crap labeled "low-fat" or "no fat".

  • Live Free or Diet||

    I've seen the production of grain oil and soy protein, which I imagine is a similar process.
    Hexane, yum! /sarcastic voice

  • Cancer||

    On-topic? Off-topic? You be the judge.

    Upon leaving office, Michael Bloomberg pledges to spend down his fortune on a full-out assault on the legal right of private gun ownership in the US.

    This Is How the NRA Ends
    A bigger, richer, meaner gun-control movement has arrived
    http://www.newrepublic.com/art.....s-arrived#

  • Hyperion||

    Don't read the comments, it's too early to start drinking. But here's a priceless jewel of logic from the aforementioned:

    The Constitution is not the Bible. The 2nd Amendment is obsolete and pernicious. It should be sharply amended if not repealed. That is a fact.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    They act like a sheep, then get eaten by wolves.

  • From the Tundra||

    Whoa, wait. I thought 2A wasn't a suicide pact?

    It frightens me that these people exist.

  • AdamJ||

    "The constitution is not the bible."
    First, praise the founders! Way more thought was put into the constitution than the bible. But people who espouse this line of thinking usually think we just shouldn't follow it, instead of pushing to get it changed. In this commenters defense, he does mention repeal, but probably doesn't realize that the odds of that happening are approximately zero. If congress can't even pass a law with restrictions, how does this fella think states will ratify the repeal of the 2nd Ammendment?

  • Hyperion||

    Let's not forget the last sentence in the evaluation of the logic capacity of the poster in question.

    That is a fact

    A fact? Now, opinions are facts? Only in his small and feeble mind.

  • Mustakrakish||

    I read the comments... I died a little on the inside.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    I died a little on the inside.

    I was wondering what that smell was...

  • Robert||

    Bad timing. I don't think the pendulum's going to start swinging back toward gun control for another 15-20 yrs. They can have all the opinion they want, they won't be able to do anything about it until at least that long. Court decisions will make the stringent controls they want infeasible, and they just won't have the horses for less stringent ones.

  • SIV||

    One of the country’s best-known gun-rights advocates, Robert Levy, said the NRA’s “stonewalling of the background-check proposal was a mistake, both politically and substantively.”2

    Cato's cocktail-quaffing cosmotarian chairman:

    Robert A. Levy is chairman of the Cato Institute’s board of directors. He joined Cato as senior fellow in constitutional studies in 1997 after 25 years in business. He also sits on boards of the Institute for Justice, the Federalist Society, and the George Mason University School of Law.

  • SIV||

    Jim Lynch, a “conservative, independent, libertarian,” rose to say that a government’s “most sacred duty is to protect the lives of its citizens, in particular young, innocent children.”

    "Libertarians For the Children"

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Maybe it's a typo? "Librarian," maybe?

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Upon leaving office, Michael Bloomberg pledges to spend down his fortune on a full-out assault on the legal right of private gun ownership in the US.

    Sounds like a great way to squander a fortune to no end.

  • anarch||

    “To solve the serious health challenge of our city, we need leadership, not gimmicks.”

    A distinction without a difference.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    I tried to read that New Republic thing; I didn't even make it to the part about Bloomberg. It was all just the same tired old mishmash of half-truths and unsubstantiated assertions with a hot steamy drizzle of sobbing emotionalism on top.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    The 2nd Amendment is obsolete and pernicious.

    That's what the Democrats said about the Fourteenth, too.

  • Mullet Vampire||

    For what it's worth... McDonald's current ad campaign is pushing the "healthy" angle pretty heavily.

    "Fruit and dairy" yadda yadda yadda... as if the apples and milk are the entire meal.

  • Atanarjuat||

    Yeah, they have salads and wraps too. I think it has a lot more to do with the recent trend of consumers seeking healthier food than some overly-ambitious provincial politician's blatherings.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    “But we’re saying that companies can’t spend millions of dollars on marketing or include items on children’s menus if those foods clearly are going to lead to obesity.”

    Those poor, helpless little children. We must save then from the evil mind control of advertising!

  • AdamJ||

    If we're so concerned about healthy children, lets start with the place where they are warehoused for 7 hours a day and eat one, sometimes two meals? I'm sure one look into an NYC school lunch would be pretty revealing. (At least I hope, because I'm not doing any research into it)

  • PH2050||

    ^THIS.

    They can't even offer children healthy fare in schools ("whole grain" isn't healthy) but want to tell everybody else how to eat. What a fucking joke.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    "whole grain" isn't healthy

    Not even for cattle. They're supposed to eat the whole plant. Mostly cellulose, not mostly starch and sugar. That "marbling" we love so much in grain-fed beef is visceral fat. Imagine the same thing inflating your liver, making it malfunction.

  • Jon Lester||

    Quinn, Thomson and Weiner all could not care less that the rent is too damn high.

  • Curtisls87||

    this!

    I surely hope he runs, again!

  • Jon Lester||

  • ||

    Once again, as revealed by irrational busy-bodies with arbitrary statistics like Quinn, responsible parents get the shaft. One size fits all policies are a disease we have to exterminate.

    How is it fair to parents who take their kids out intermittently (as I do) for a Happy Meal as a treat?

    For fuck sakes, my daughter eats broccoli and rapini like it's out of style. Between me and her grandmothers, she still gets a healthy dose of home cooked meals but yet, political 'betters' have the balls to tell me what and how to eat?

    I want to call out Quinn and Bloomberg: I bet them the diet in my family is superior to theirs.

  • ||

    For the record, I proudly proclaim our diet is largely Italian-Lebanese.

    And it incorporates a lot of Asian recipes as well as South American - including Quinoa.

  • Robert||

    If this is enacted, McDonald's will just call it a "small-portion meal" or something, just not promoting it as for children. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure they already have a version labeled like that for adults who don't want to eat so much, just with no toy. They can always sell toys a la carte to keep the kids occupied while the adults eat & rest; maybe they'd even make more money that way.

  • Curtisls87||

    As an adult, I miss the toy...

  • Lane||

    These food issues are really a distraction in a city that still has the memory of massive crime and a pogrom. How do you think a former Republican like Bloomberg got elected in a city full of SWPLs?

  • ||

    I love the American people and .... they love cops!

    Latest polling data from 2012

    When asked to rate the honesty and ethical standards of police officers:

    14% very high
    44% high
    32% average
    7% low
    3% very low

    Like I explain, the distrust of the cops is a reasonoid niche attitude. Only 10% of the populace rates cops low or very low. 58% rates us high or very high

    Compare to State Officeholders: 12% high/very high
    , Contractors 26% h/vh, Business Executives 21% h/vh
    , Journalists 24% h/vh (with 30% low/very low), Judges 47% h/vh, Lawyers 19% h/vh, Medical Doctors 70% h/vh, Members of US Military 81%!!!!!! h/vh, Newspaper Reporters 22% h/vh, Nurses 85% h/vh

    So, next time a nut punch article gets posted (and god knows I hate police misconduct), it's nice to remember that the american public views this (correctly) as outlier behavior and on the whole considers LEO's as worthy of respect moreso than most other professions. Considering that we have to, as a function of our job, do stuff that tends to make people upset - like take away their liberty, write tickets, etc, it's surprising and heartening that we are accorded this much respect.

    It's part of what makes being a LEO so rewarding - the gratitude and respect of the people we serve.

  • ||

    So, next time some reasonoid myopic cophater, in response to some nut punch says shit like 'the american people are fed up. They aren't going to take this fascist shit by cops much longer. People are sick and tired of authoritarian cops and bla bla bla', they are quite simply just expressing their attitude NOT how the american people on the whole feel.

    Note also the trend in High/Very high does NOT show that the american people, are getting fed up. Here's the last 10 yrs: 58,54,57,63, 56, 53, 54, 61, 60, 59

    There is no trend there. Just consistent high rankings.

    Some facts to counter the reasonoid anti-cop, the "public is getting fed up" hyperbole

    Thank you American people for recognizing and respecting us, for recognizing our honesty and high ethical standards.

    Thank you.

  • ||

  • PH2050||

    Dunphy, I don't feel it's fair that you label it a reasonoid niche attitude. You automatically discount the personal experiences of others based on...what, exactly?

    Just as people responding to this survey may have had a majority of positive experiences and outcomes in their interactions with police, some here may have had a majority of negative experiences.

    For instance, related to my question to you concerning recording police activity - I would never record you because I don't want to risk police fucking with me. Ask yourself why a sober, rational person (who doesn't engage in criminal activity) would feel such a way. It isn't because I visit the Reason website.

  • ||

    It's a minority attitude, but the statements are that it isn't. In other words, they are counterfactual. People CLAIM that the public is FED UP with cops and stuff like that, but the facts (polling data) shows that on the whole people are NOT fed up , but have a lot of respect for cops. It's a minority attitude that cops are routinely engaging in excessive force or whatnot. It's not reflected in what the American public (correctly perceives).

    As for recording, youtube is FULL of people who have recorded police with no problem. I've recorded police on at least two dozen occasions in all sorts of jurisdictions and have never been fucked with once. I've got a joking response about how the cop wanted me to film him in the proper light and stuff like that.

    Reason (cause that' what they do) will publish stories about outlier behavior, which is fine, but it's not how the vast majority of cops act.
    Again, there are THOUSANDS of youtube videos for every instance of a cop going apeshit on somebody for filming them. Look at the big picture. I've been filming cops for years. I don't "FEEl' the way you do.

  • ||

    You may feel as you do about recording me, but most people who have (what I believe to be) common sense DO NOT feel that way. I get cell phone cameras whipped out on my all the time. It's COMMON. People, at least around my parts, are not afraid in the least to record us, and we encourage them to do so.

    I would opine that whatever leads you to FEEL (I note you say "feel" which is kind of telling because it evidences an emotional response) the way you do, that it is not seated in evidence about the AVERAGE cop response to being filmed, in MOST jurisdicition, which is ... nothing.

    And again, back to the niche thing. If 10% of the public agree with you, that's niche.

    I love the American people, I love my job, and I love the fact that out in the real world, people don't "feel" the way about us that reasonoids do. People give us the benefit of the doubt. something reasonoids extend to Zimmerman, but never to cops. People empathize with us, when we have to shoot somebody, not automatically suspect us of a coverup.

    Again, I'm just countering the rhetoric with facts. The american public is not fed up with cops. On the whole, they respect us and that's irrefutably supported with polling data.

  • dinkster||

    Goose stepping morons in a costume are what turned me into a libertarian in the first place.

  • PH2050||

    Now I understand what you were driving at.

    I suspect the mechanism at play here is the "file-drawer effect", where these outliers you mention are highly publicized and some people assume "the problem is way worse than this, these are just the guys that got caught".

  • PH2050||

    As a biochem student who sees most of the fitness/nutrition industry as complete bullshit, this makes my blood boil. These fucks are fucking stupid and know NOTHING about nutrition or human biology. Even if they did, it doesn't justify controlling what others may choose to eat.

  • Jumbie||

    I am interested in your views and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

    No, seriously, I KNOW the public nutrution industry is talking shit, but I have no idea how to sort sense from nonsense. Gimme some pointers.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes for the full experience.
    Why We Get Fat also by Gary Taubes for a less academic treatment.
    Fat Head by Tom Naughton for the quick overview. http://www.hulu.com/watch/196879

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