Rita Papazian
Published: June 8, 2012

I went to see a Broadway play recently. It was during the same week that
Mayor Michael Bloomberg came out with his proposed ban on the sale of sugary
soft drinks over 16 ounces in individual servings. I had bought my show ticket at
the Times Square discount ticket booth so I was pleased with my half-priced
orchestra ticket. When I went to the row to find my seat I noticed a very large
man seating in the row. He was so large that I realized it would be better to enter
from the aisle in which I could go directly to my seat without having to cross in
front of the gentleman. He was that large. His stomach almost touched the seat in
front of him. We’re not talking about a man with an upper torse muffin problem.
This was more a large Humpty Dumpty.

I get it Mayor Bloomberg. “Houston, we have [an obesity] problem.”

Years ago, a good friend of mine, whom I have known since Junior High
School allowed her weight to balloon to such serious proportions that when she
wanted to wash a few dishes at the kitchen sink she had to take a chair to the
sink, sit in it and lean over to wash the dishes. She was that obese. It wasn’t until
she became motivated by the loss of her husband in an airplane accident to
address her health issues. She focused on changing her eating habits and she lost
a great deal of weight. She is now happily married again and managing to
maintain her weight.

Mayor Bloomberg has good intentions. However, I do question his
proposal to ban the oversized drinks. Is this a step in the direction of too much
government control? I do agree with his past smoking ban on smoking in
restaurants and other public places, for other people’s smoke personally affects
us. I, an ex-smoker prone to asthmatic flare-ups, am all for smoking bans. I still
can’t imagine how many years ago I, at seven months pregnant, was legally
allowed to smoke in a faculty room in a high school where I was teaching
English. What were we all thinking at that time.

Bloomberg’s proposed ban on the super-sized sugary soft drinks comes, as
New York Times writer Frank Bruni points out, at the same time that Michelle
Obama is publicizing her new book, “American Grown.” The book is the story of
the White House’s kitchen garden and gardens across America. As Bruni noted,
Bloomberg and Obama’s approach to healthy eating is “a good-cop, bad-cop

In either approach, the point is the same. We have a serious problem with
obesity in this country and we have a serious problem with unhealthy eating.
Fortunately, I have never had a problem with weight. It is only in the last few
years that a few extra pounds have been added to my waistline. However,
through various circumstances I have changed some habits. l I no longer eat in
front of the television and I hardly snack after dinner. Also, I am walking more.
Also, I am now living in a three-story house instead of one floor. As a result, I
have lost approximately 20 plus pounds.

Look ahead as you shop. Look around you at the beach. Look around the
family dinner table. Do you see overweight or obese people? When I stand in line
at the supermarket check-out counter, I like to see what people have in their
shopping cart. The other day, the woman in front of me had the typical unhealthy
foods –lots of boxed stuff. Then she reached over to the shelf next to the check-
out counter and grabbed some snack food. I wanted to say, “Do you really need
that, too?” Remember the advice to shop the perimeters of the supermarket to
buy the fresh foods? Of course, it’s difficult to find the perimeter at Stew

An article in the current issue of New York magazine describes Bloomberg
as “a problem-solver on the global stage.” With his money, he wants to instill his
values to improve the quality of individual lives and countries as a whole.

The good point about Bloomberg’s proposed ban on super-sized soft
drinks is that he is drawing attention to the ill-effects of such drinking habits.
However, the focus needs to be on the retailers and corporations to take the
initiative to market healthier lifestyles through their products. 

© Copyright 2012 Rita Papazian All rights reserved.