Root Causes of Ill Health Fall Flat in Bloomberg’s Soda Ban

While reactions to Bloomberg’s soda ban continue to effervesce, those truly concerned with the public’s health would be well advised to hold their praise.

Yesterday the New York City Board of Health approved Mayer Bloomberg’s controversial plan to ban large-sized sugary drinks. Across the web, the ban has sparked a range of debates. Proposed in an effort to curb obesity, many are concerned about how far the government should go in controlling people’s individual health choices; others wonder about its effectiveness in achieving smaller waistlines.

Back in April, Toronto based family physician, Ritika Goel, wrote about her encounter with the Mayor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. As Goel writes, Bloomberg is well known in public health circles for spearheading a variety of health-related initiatives. Unfortunately, when questioned about one most fundamental determinants of health, income-inequality, Bloomberg was quick to dismiss its existence, let alone acknowledge its significance for improved population health.

For those of us concerned with improving the public’s health, Goel’s article about her experience meeting the Mayor should be carefully considered. For whether the soda ban policy is a step in the right direction ultimately depends on the wider policy approach within which it is enacted. And given Bloomberg’s failure to recognize the health importance of the socio-political context, we have great cause to be wary.

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