Last week, Mayor Bloomberg of NYC created a stir when he proposed banning over-sized sugary drinks and sodas. In his proposal, super-sized, ginormous, mega-deluxe drinks over 16 ounces would be a thing of the past. Bloomberg and anti-obesity advocates theorize that under the new rules people would consume fewer high-calorie, high-sugar beverages and the city’s obesity rate would decrease. For some, Bloomberg’s proposal takes a novel approach to a serious issue, but to others his idea is an overreach by the government.
I started thinking about what if I was an obesity-fighting mayor of a town I was trying to help get in shape. Here are a few of the ideas I might propose – some are fun and some are oh so serious:
- Schools would be required to provide 60 minutes of daily active play time for kids. At least half of that time would be dedicated to unstructured time or what we used to call good, old-fashioned RECESS! As this report from the American Heart Association shows, schools are decreasing physical education programs, and the results are showing.
- Employees would be required to leave their desks for lunch every day and for an additional 30 minutes a day. Why? Because literally “sitting down on the job” all day is unhealthy.
- At least half of all vending machines would have to be filled with snacks deemed healthy. And the vending company could not re-fill the machine until all of the healthy stuff was sold.
- Food labels would be tested for accuracy, and if a product was found to be off by 10 percent or more, their product would be banned from store shelves for six months. It would be a great incentive for food manufacturers to tell the truth, wouldn’t it?
- Before and after all sporting events, parents would have to join in warm up and cool down exercises with their kids.
- A park would have to be created within minutes of every kid in the city. I think Indianapolis has great parks, but we could use more of them. Right now, two-thirds of Indy residents don’t live within 10 minutes of a park. According to a report from the Center for City Park Excellence at the Trust for Public Land, that lack of access is one reason Indy ranked #36 out of 40 cities in a report looking at parks, playgrounds and green spaces.
- Healthy food trucks like Garden on the Go would make required stops throughout the city so everyone had access to fresh produce.
Do you think these types of rules would work or do you think taking personal responsibility for making healthy choices is the answer? If you were the mayor, what new legislation would you propose, if any?