The Corner

Bloomberg: Do What I Say, Not What I Do

This week, Michael Bloomberg opened up another front in his anti-obesity campaign with the announcement that most sugary drinks sold in New York would be limited to 16 fluid ounces. Although this is perhaps his most extreme example of micro-regulation thus far in his tenure, the move is consonant with his philosophy. After all, this is a man who has banned trans fats from the city, ended smoking in bars and restaurants, and forced many restaurants to display calorie counts on their menus.

Nonetheless, last December Bloomberg seemed rather pleased to cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony of a new Shake Shack joint in Brooklyn, and last summer lent his presence to Nathan’s July 4 Hot Dog–eating contest at Coney Island. Indeed, as the New York Times pointed out in 2009, in an article subtly titled, “Mayor Doesn’t Always Live by His Health Rules,” the Mayor is rather heavily in the “do as I say not what I do” camp:

He dumps salt on almost everything, even saltine crackers. He devours burnt bacon and peanut butter sandwiches. He has a weakness for hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and fried chicken, washing them down with a glass of merlot.

And his snack of choice? Cheez-Its.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has become New York City’s nutritional nag, banning the use of trans fats, forcing chain restaurants to post calorie counts and exhorting diners to consume less salt. Now he is at it again, directing his wrath at sugary drinks in a new series of arresting advertisements that ask subway riders: “Are you pouring on the pounds?”

But an examination of what enters the mayoral mouth reveals that Mr. Bloomberg is an omnivore with his own glaring indulgences, many of them at odds with his own policies. And he struggles mightily to restrain his appetite. . . .

Mr. Bloomberg, 67, likes his popcorn so salty that it burns others’ lips. (At Gracie Mansion, the cooks deliver it to him with a salt shaker.) He sprinkles so much salt on his morning bagel “that it’s like a pretzel,” said the manager at Viand, a Greek diner near Mr. Bloomberg’s Upper East Side town house.

Not even pizza is spared a coat of sodium. When the mayor sat down to eat a slice at Denino’s Pizzeria Tavern on Staten Island recently, this reporter spotted him applying six dashes of salt to it.

A health tip sheet from the mayor’s office tells New Yorkers to “drink smart” by choosing water, even though Mr. Bloomberg has a three- to four-cup-a-day coffee habit.

“I can count on two hands the number of times I have seen him drink water,” said one dining companion, who spoke on condition of anonymity, so as not to offend the mayor (who likes his coffee weak, and with milk).


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