Gostin explains why, despite the label of "Nanny Bloomberg," the mayor's controversial soda portion limit makes sense: "The mayor relied on science to support a creative, untested strategy: sugary drinks deliver empty calories, with a direct relationship to obesity, while portion sizes have grown exponentially. Society cannot know what works until commonsense ideas are tested." The soda portion limit is currently being decided by the New York State's highest court.
Gostin also singles out Bloomberg's program for monitoring diabetes. When the prevalence of diabetes in New York City nearly tripled in a decade, rising from 3.7 percent in 1994 to 9.2 percent in 2004, the city declared it an epidemic. In response, the city required laboratories to report blood sugar test results to the health department, which then informed treating physicians and patients with elevated blood sugar. "The program is one of the first uses of surveillance that not only tracks a chronic, noncommunicable disease but also links the data to concrete interventions," Gostin writes. "It bridges the historic divide between public health and medicine, thus offering pathways for future programs."
In addition, Gostin analyzes Bloomberg's policies for menu labeling, facilitating bicycle use, and increasing the number of pedestrian paths and parks. Gostin also offers point-by-point analysis of the critiques of Bloomberg and his policies, including charges of paternalism, assertions that the policies infringe upon corporate rights, and objections to his wielding of unilateral executive power
Regardless of the mixed success of the policies and the criticisms leveled at them, Gostin concludes that Bloomberg's approach to public health is not a passing fad. "It is rather a sober and necessary response to an epidemiological transition to life-style related diseases," he writes. "The public health community should take time to recognize and defend its championsand Ma
|Contact: Susan Gilbert|
The Hastings Center