Obesity

Mayor Bloomberg's Salty Tooth

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New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has a salty tooth. According to The New York Times, Bloomberg liberally salts his pizza, throws so much salt on his morning bagel that "it's like a pretzel," and "likes his popcorn so salty that it burns others' lips." In a sane world, no one would care about such trivia. But in a world where paternalistic busybodies like Bloomberg tell people how to live their lives and do not hesitate to use force (in the form of smoking bans, cigarette taxes, and trans fat prohibition, for example) when scolding fails, the mayor's eating habits are newsworthy. The Times rightly perceives a contradiction between the mayor's salty diet and his administration's campaign against salt, which has included "asking restaurants and food manufacturers to voluntarily cut the salt in their dishes by 20 percent or more, and encouraging diners to 'shake the habit' by asking waiters for food without added salt."

The Times also suggests there's a tension between the city's rule requiring the prominent posting of calorie counts on restaurant menu boards and the mayor's fondness for hot dogs, fried chicken, cheeseburgers, and "burnt bacon and peanut butter sandwiches." The mayor's aides emphasize that he makes up for his overindulgences by cutting back the next day and manages to keep a trim figure. Bloomberg says the calorie-count rule is all about informing consumers, who are then free to make their own choices. "I like a Big Mac like everybody else," he says. "I just want to know how many calories are in it."

Since that information was already available on the McDonald's website and on posters and handouts in the chain's restaurants, Bloomberg's explanation does not ring true. The menu board mandate is not aimed at providing calorie counts to people who want them; it is aimed at changing the behavior of people who prefer to eat in blissful ignorance. The Times reports that the writer Nora Ephron, a pal of Bloomberg's, "hates the new calorie counts." Ephron says the menu board requirement "takes the fun out of everything." But she adds, "The mayor's concerns are larger than mine." Yes, the mayor has to worry about all those poor, benighted souls who, unlike him and his buddy Nora Ephron, cannot be trusted to count their own calories and manage their own salt intake.

attacked mandatory calorie counts in a 2008 column. In my 2003 Reason article about the Center for Science in the Public Interest, I noted the weak scientific basis for broad appeals to cut back on salt.

[Thanks to Tricky Vic for the tip.]

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  1. Yo, fuck Mike Bloomberg.

  2. The funny thing about salt is that if you cut back on it for a while (a few weeks or months, I’ve forgotten now), you become more sensitive to it, and so will naturally use less of it from then on. I did this 30+ years ago, and still use less than I did.

  3. Rules are for little people. Come on guys. Bloomburg heard that a law abiding black man may have brought a gun into New York or that someone maybe eating unapproved food. He has important things to do and can’t be bothered with this kind of stuff.

  4. Chalk up another reason, on my huge list, why I hate Bloomberg. However, this love for salt makes me think he is Gua, which would make a lot of sense.

    LONG LIVE CADE FOSTER

  5. What kind of health insurance does the mayor have?

  6. I wonder if the businesses of New York City would be pleased to know that his nanny-statism is keeping people like me from visiting the city where I tend to spend money on food and entertainment. I have very little desire to go there now.

  7. You people just don’t get it. Bloomberg already knows how to take care of himself. But the rest of us peasants don’t have a clue, so must be forced into properly caring for ourselves. It’s the only rational policy.

  8. he makes up for his overindulgences by cutting back the next day

    Sorta like the economy.

  9. Mister Peanut should go to New York and thrash Bloomberg with his cane.

  10. I’ve got quite the salty tooth myself. I love to sit down to a big bowl of olives, with a side of nice salty feta…..but salt on pizza? really? i never even considered it, but now i think i’ll have to give it a try sometime. Thanks for the tip Mayor Bloomberg!

    But really, to crave salt like that, there must be something osmotically wrong with him. Unless he really is an alien (or a deer maybe?)

    … throws so much salt on his morning bagel that “it’s like a pretzel,”…

    I’ll reciprocate on the salted-pizza tip here Mr. Bloomberg: they sell them already coated in salt like a pretzel. Or hey, just get a pretzel, they’re nutritionally equivalent pretty much. And do it before you close-down the pretzel carts. Hurry!

  11. Is Mr. Peanut our mascot?

  12. Is Mr. Peanut our mascot?

    What about the Morton Salt girl?

  13. I don’t put extra salt on my pizza, because the anchovies already have quite enough.

    The best meal in the world is jalapeno and anchovy pizza, washed down with several shots of Don Julio. This is an inarguable fact.

  14. Man, I really hope Thompson beats Bloomberg. I know it’s as likely as a cold day in hell, but I really, really do, just to see Mike’s face.

  15. She’s missing the prerequisite monocle and top hat.

    If Mr. Peanut had a nice moustache he’d clinch it before the race even started.

  16. In addition to the top hat and monocle, he represents TEH CORPORASHUNS(!) and ruins the lives of poor people because of his greedy salt peddling. The cane is a nice bonus.

  17. shape-shifting salt vampire POS

  18. It’s a plot to horde all our salt for himself.

  19. “””Mister Peanut should go to New York and thrash Bloomberg with his cane.”””

    Yeah, all Tonya Harding on his ass. lol.

    The thing with salt is it can raise some peoples blood pressure, and decrease others’ blood pressure. Your salt intake should depend on what you and your doctor discuss.

    Bloomberg loves eating many things he speaks of banning or restricting. Of course, hyprocracy isn’t new for politicians.

  20. Am I the only one who saw the headline and flashed on the classic “salty chocolate balls” skit from South Park?

  21. The Times reports that the writer Nora Ephron, a pal of Bloomberg’s, “hates the new calorie counts.” Ephron says the menu board requirement “takes the fun out of everything.”

    That’s not really a good argument against the calorie counts on the menu board. Personally, I like the calorie counts, but hate that they are mandatory.

    Yes, the mayor has to worry about all those poor, benighted souls who, unlike him and his buddy Nora Ephron, cannot be trusted to count their own calories and manage their own salt intake.

    Uh, how do you count your calories without knowing the calorie count of a dish? You could have two similar looking meals with very different calorie counts. It could change drastically depending how much butter or oil is used, despite the two looking almost indistinguishable to the untrained eye.

  22. Mo, what good are posted calorie counts unless the food and portion are consistant?

    That’s the problem with posted calorie counts.

    It’s funny when I go to Chipolte the posted calorie count for a burrito is somethink like 365 – 850. They post a range. Naturally it depends on what you put in that burrito.

  23. TrickyVic,

    Which is why posted calorie counts only really help at chains. Chains have remarkably consistent portion sizes (+/- 5%). Plus, general magnitude of calorie counts is important. The difference between 500 and 525 isn’t that big a deal, between 800 and 1100 on the other hand.

  24. I’m sure the news that Bloomberg is a hypocrite will anger many of his constituents.

    It will, won’t it?

  25. “””The difference between 500 and 525 isn’t that big a deal, between 800 and 1100 on the other hand.”””

    True, but what the hell is 25 calories? One french fry at McDs?

    And Chipolte is a chain.

  26. Vic, 800 calories for a Chipotle burrito seems pretty low to me. Check this out.

    Oh yeah, fuck Mike Bloomberg.

  27. Send Bloomberg to Guantanamo and put him on a diet of soya-wheat paste with a dollup of yogurt, a sprig of parsley, a sprinkle of lime juice, and an occasional strawberry.

    Healthier for him, and better for New York!

    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”

  28. Fuck Bloomberg! He’s a Bumberg!

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