Dr. Manny: Ban on popcorn sizes is a step too far

A board of advisors hand-picked by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is set to approve his ban on the sale of large sugary drinks in restaurants and other food establishments.  But it looks like drinks are not all they’re targeting.

The New York City Board of Health met Tuesday, and while the main topic was the large-drink ban, one member also suggested limiting the sizes of popcorn people get at movie theaters.

Now, I have been on the bandwagon for many health initiatives.  I’ve been onboard with regulating sugary drinks, getting more physical activity in schools, and curtailing smoking.  And the reason I’ve been behind these initiatives is that I do believe we need some control, and these proposals do show a statistical improvement in health.

When you look at bans on smoking, you see a reduction in the number of people smoking after the bans were put into place, and therefore the fight is going in the right direction.

But, the problem is that if you bite more than you can chew (forgive the pun) in controlling people’s habits, then you’re not going to get anywhere.  I think it’s silly to control the size of popcorn in movie theaters.  First of all people don’t go to the movies every day, and secondly, you can only get these sizes when you go to the movies.

Also, at the end of the day, popcorn is not that bad for you, especially if you don’t add any butter to it.  Though movie theater popcorn is typically a calorie-bomb, it’s not the worst snack you can buy at the theater by any means.  In fact, popcorn is 100 percent unprocessed whole grain, and a recent report from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania found that popcorn actually contains more healthy antioxidants – known as polyphenols – than fruits and vegetables.

So I think that the Bloomberg administration should feel good about what they have accomplished so far.  But they need to wait and see what effects their previous mandates have gotten us, and then look to educate the public without necessarily controlling everything.