Wednesday, June 06, 2012

First Lady Wades Into Controversy With Praise For New York Soda Ban

Mrs. Obama applauds Mayor Bloomberg, then says she doesn't want to "weigh in" on topic...
In an interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday to promote her new book, First Lady Michelle Obama waded into controversy. Standing beside the White House Kitchen Garden, Mrs. Obama applauded New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's recently proposed ban on large sizes of soda and sugary beverages. She later issued a statement saying she did not want to comment on the proposal. (Above: A photo of Mrs. Obama during the interview)

Still, her comments about Bloomberg's plans to limit portion sizes for sugary drinks to 16 ounces in the city's restaurants, delis, food trucks, movie theaters and sporting arenas landed Mrs. Obama as a headline on Drudge Report, and caused headlines around the internet. Mrs. Obama's new book, American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America went on sale on May 29.

From AP:

"First lady Michelle Obama says banning big servings of sugary drinks isn't anything she'd want to do at the federal level, but she offered some kind words Tuesday for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's effort to do just that. She later issued a statement backing away from taking a stand on New York's controversial proposed ban. Asked about Bloomberg's proposal during an interview with The Associated Press, Mrs. Obama said there's no "one-size-fits-all" solution for the country's health challenges.

But she said, "We applaud anyone who's stepping up to think about what changes work in their communities. New York is one example."

And asked whether the nation's obesity epidemic warrants taking a more aggressive approach, such as Bloomberg's, she said: "There are people like Mayor Bloomberg who are, and that is perfectly fine."

Mrs. Obama later issued a statement saying that she hadn't intended to weigh in on the Bloomberg plan "one way or the other."

"I was trying to make the point that every community is different and every solution is different and that I applaud local leaders including mayors, business leaders, parents, etc., who are taking this issue seriously and working towards solving this problem."

"But this is not something the administration is pursuing at a federal level and not something I'm specifically endorsing or condemning."

In the interview, Mrs. Obama said she's "trying to create a big tent for people. Our motto is everyone has a role to play in this and I think it's up to communities and families to figure out what role they can play, what role they should play."

Last week, Bloomberg proposed limiting portion sizes of sugary drinks to 16 ounces at the city's restaurants, delis, food trucks, movie theaters and sporting arenas. Regular soda and sports drinks would be affected but not diet sodas.

On Tuesday morning, Mrs. Obama appeared at a press conference in Washington, DC, with Disney executives as they unveiled new corporate nutrition standards. She also filmed a Top Ten List about gardening for Late Night with David Letterman.

*AP photo