Inside the Beltway: A Reagan reminder

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“Wow. Bloomberg just outlawed elevators,” comedian Dennis Miller said in a recent series of cheeky Tweets, later adding, “Wow. Bloomberg just outlawed absolutely everything but the Occupy Protesters.”

Yes, well. New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s bid to ban super-sized sodas to combat obesity in the Big Apple has prompted mirth. But wait. Mr. Bloomberg’s notion may not hold water, scientifically speaking. Public health researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham say the mayor is, uh, mistaken.

“We found no significant effect on overall weight reduction as a result of reducing intake of sugar-sweetened beverages,” says Kathryn Kaiser, says Kathryn Kaiser, who pored over several studies to back her claim.

“To say people drinking large sodas at events is the cause of obesity is shortsighted, and it is making a villain out of something that may not be the true villain. While reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is important, I don’t think making it unavailable in certain settings is a way to accomplish that,” observes Suzanne Judd, an assistant professor of biostatistics at the campus.

“People make their own choices, and we can’t force them into those decisions. A public health effort must be made so they can better understand the consequences of their choices,” she adds.

REVISING INGREDIENTS

“We applaud anyone who’s stepping up to think about what changes work in their communities. New York is one example.” So said first lady Michelle Obama, commenting on Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s bid to ban big sodas to the Associated Press on Tuesday.

“But this is not something the administration is pursuing at a federal level and not something I’m specifically endorsing or condemning … . Our motto is, everyone has a role to play in this, and I think it’s up to communities and families to figure out what role they can play, what role they should play.” So said a statement from Mrs. Obama later in the afternoon.

The wire service’s conclusion on it all: “It was a telling example of the fine line the first lady walks as she tries to improve Americans’ health and eating habits without provoking complaints that she’s part of any ‘nanny state’ telling people how to eat or raise their children.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 55 percent of Americans say they hear “mostly bad news” about the nation’s unemployment situation.

• 65 percent of Republicans, 53 percent of independents and 46 percent of Democrats agree.

• 35 percent overall say the jobs news is a “mix of good and bad.”

• 26 percent of Republicans, 38 percent of independents and 41 percent of Democrats agree.

• 8 percent say the jobs news is “mostly good.”

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