The Cycle | March 12, 2013
>>> new york city mayor mike bloomberg 's campaign to get the city off a sugar high has hit a sour patch . a judge threw out the ban on sugary drinks claiming it would have eviscerated the separation of powers and created an administrative leviathan. but there would be no sugar crash for the mayor. he called it a temporary setback and today appeared at a manhattan diner whose owners have volunteered to enact the ban whether the courts mandate it or not.
>> not a setback for me. this was seatback for the people who are dying. in case you hadn't noticed, i watch my diet. this is not for me. i am 100% confident that just like smoking, this is an issue that the public has finally come to understand.
>> amen, mayor mike . the proposed law was widely unpopular among new york city voters and at the table. but lawmaker in other cities have been considering similar bans because obesity is an american public health epidemic. according to the cdc, 36% of americans are obese. government has stepped in to do preventive work in other public health areas like constraining the right to smoke to limit contact with secondhand smoke and mandating seatbelts and airbags to mitigate fatalities and injuries in cars and punishing bartenders who serve inebriated customers. so should government play a role in the preventive side of public health given that the processed food giants are doing all sorts of thing to get us looked on their sugary products or is this nanny state politics infringing on our right to do whatever we want as long as we're hurting others. our next guest is the author of salt, sugar, fat. just by seeing the title i feel hungry. should government play a role in mitigating our exposure to processed food and drink and is it a fair fight between consumers' appetites and big food?
>> i was really struck by the judge's wording on the bloomberg position being arbitrary and capricious. there is nothing arbitrary about the food industry marketing, formulating and marketing its products to us. and researching and writing this book for me was a bit of a detective story . you get inside these companies and it is really clear that salt, sugar, fat, are the three pillars. they're their holy guardrail and they know when they get the amounts perfect, they'll send us over the moon . their products will fly off the shelves. we'll buy more, eat more and they being companies, they will make more money.
>> i get it. obviously this stuff is sugary food, sugary drinks, it is bad for you and i get the impetus behind the attempts to ban large soda by bloomberg in new york. it is a good health measure to be sending out. but bloomberg was on letterman last night and he tried to make a joke but the joke was, i'm for cutting down on this stuff but i don't want to ban cheese-its because they're my guilty pleasure . isn't that the point? everybody has a guilty pleasure . whether it is sewed, a cheese-its, this doughnut thing that i got in my has not here. everybody has their guilty pleasure . isn't it overkill? if you want to put the information out there, that's one thing. if you want to ban sodas, that's overkill, isn't it?
>> i hear you on that. apply own guilty pleasure is the potato chip . i am unbelievably in love with potato chips . you have to remember, the industry makes a point. a really valid point saying we are not evil empires here intent on making people obese or otherwise ill. the problem is their collective zeal in doing what companies do. which is to sell as much product as possible. and their reliance, and their own dependence on salt, sugar fat to make their products ultra convenient, ultra low cost and ultra irresistibly tasty is the matter at hand.
>> unresistibly tasty. i could not agree more. mmm. so good!
>> encouraging the obesity of america.
>> so good. this was a victory for freedom lovers everywhere. i just want to push you a little more. you talked about the collective zeal on the part of these corporations. that might be true. that collective zeal is also part of the free markets . what about the collective zeal of folks like mayor bloomberg who aren't just trying to ban these things for a select group but for everyone. even people like me who eat and drink responsibly. i take care of myself. how is that fair that he is imposing his will on free citizens like myself?
>> i'm hoping this book is a wake-up call. both for the food industry but also for consumers. you walk in the grocery store and it is anything but a level playing field . again, the formulas, the marketing, the advertising, the shuttling you to the center of the store where the most sort of loaded productsful are i have to say i was most struck by spending time in poor neighborhoods where people are dependent on corner stores. and kids especially, and the markt that goes after them. because the soda companies and the snack companies know that winning brand loyalty among kids is the thing that they need to do. and that just struck me as being a huge issue here for everybody to think about.
>> well, michael, one of the fascinating things from your book, you say there are some changes happening from inside the industry out. and you talk specifically about kraft. i was hoping you could elaborate on that.
>> senior officials at kraft have been playing a heroic role in this matter, going all the way back to 1999 when they tried to engage the entire processed food industry into an anti-obesity initiative. they got pushed back. they went out on their own starting in 2003 . did some remarkable things. they changed some of their marketing of the most sugary products to kids. they changed their labeling to be more honor and forthright with people about what is in the packages. and they put caps on their formulas of salt, sugar, fat. so hats off to them for at least trying.
>> hats off to you. your book is excellent. how the food giants hooked us. i learned the number one cookie of all time is the oreo. congratulations, your book is selling well, deservedly so.
>> good luck to you.
>> up next, from sweets to sex, yeah, an indulgent cycle today. we've seen political unrest erupt in squares and streets across the middle east . there is an equally important revolution happening in the arab world