NYC Mayor Bloomberg: 'Government’s Highest Duty' Is to Push 'Healthy' Foods

September 27, 2011 - 3:32 PM
UN headquarters

Flags of member nations flying at United Nations headquarters in New York City. The world body is holding a global racism conference next April. (U.N. Photo by Araujo Pinto)

(CNSNews.com) - During a United Nations General Assembly summit on non-communicable diseases -- a discussion that included diet and eating habits -- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said “governments at all levels must make healthy solutions the default social option."

Speaking on the government's role in diet and health last week, Bloomberg told the UN General Assembly, “There are powers only governments can exercise, policies only governments can mandate and enforce and results only governments can achieve. To halt the worldwide epidemic of non-communicable diseases, governments at all levels must make healthy solutions the default social option. That is ultimately government’s highest duty.”

Earlier in his address Bloomberg lauded the past dietary efforts of NYC, “In 2009 we enacted the first restriction on cholesterol-free artificial trans fat in the city’s food service establishments. Our licensing of street green card producer/vendors has greatly increased the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables in neighborhoods with high rates of diet related diseases. And we’ve led a national salt reduction initiative and engaged 28 food manufacturers, supermarkets and restaurant chains to voluntarily commit to reducing excessive amounts of sodium in their products. ”

“Collaboration across borders among national and local governments and agencies is also critical. The challenges before us are too vast and complex for individual governments to overcome alone,” Bloomberg later added.

Shortly after the address, the UN adopted a political declaration on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.

Among the items included in the declaration are having governments intervene with the advertising of foods deemed unhealthy to “Promote the implementation of the WHO (World Health Organization) set of recommendations on the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children, including foods that are high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars, or salt,” according to the document.

The political declaration also touches upon taxation of unhealthy food and intervening in it’s production itself to promote, “the development and initiate the implementation, as appropriate, of cost-effective interventions to reduce salt, sugar and saturated fats, and eliminate industrially produced trans-fats in foods, including through discouraging the production and marketing of foods that contribute to unhealthy diet.”