Poll: Should Policymakers Practice What They Preach?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  212 comments   :  16,781 Views

President Obama has been criticized for smoking.

Surgeon General-designate Dr. Regina Benjamin's qualifications were questioned because of her weight.

Michelle Obama, a children's nutrition advocate whose rippled arms have been much coveted, appeared on a cooking show with TV cook Paula Deen--on an episode devoted to "grease." The women made Creole fries and fried shrimp.

Now, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's dietary choices are being questioned. According to The New York Times, "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?”"

Bloomberg enjoys at least three cups of coffee daily, liberally shakes salt on everything he eats, and formerly smoked, according to the article.

Should his personal food and lifestyle choices be compared with the health-focused policies he has set?

We've asked you in the past whether you think health-care professionals should have a healthy BMI. What about the people who set the health and nutrition policies? Should they be criticized for their lifestyles?

Is it important for politicians, government officials and others in positions of authority to always make smart food and health choices? Or should we expect that everyone, even those who are working to improve the health of the country, is human?

What do you think? How do you feel about this story and others that examine the healthy habits of politicians? Should the mayor's affinity for salt overshadow the policies he's put in place that are trying to improve the help of New Yorkers? (Let's keep this only about health habits and leave politics out of the comments.)

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  • 212
    A very wise person told me that if you are not building up you are tearing down. This lesson has helped me in which I confront a bad situation. I ask myself how can I make this bad situation better vs. attacking the problem or even worse the person as being bad and told that they did something wrong.Law leads to death, grace leads to life. Love your neighbor as yourself. And please try to build each other up. - 4/2/2015   8:51:37 AM
  • 211
    Yeah I guess politicians are the same wherever you go. We have MORE than our fair share of the hypocrites in Canada. Do as I say not do as I do etc. - 12/19/2014   10:18:31 PM
  • 210
    When I was growing up there were several sayings that have been censored by "political correctness" but I believe are very applicable....



    3. Not practicing #2 is "LIKE THE POT CALLING THE KETTLE BLACK"

    Politicians have long (50+ years) been accustomed to passing laws that they exempt themselves from having to abide by, hence their inability to relate to those who pick up their tabs. For example, Congress has some of the worst working conditions for their own employees; yet they have closed many small businesses due to the high cost of trying to keep up with their ever increasing mandates for employers. Then there is their inability to balance their own checkbooks while the rest of us are severely reprimanded for even the smallest discrepancy, unless you maintain a high enough minimum balance to be forgiven.

    A little bit of ACCOUNTABILITY would go a very long way in reducing 'POLITICAL HYPOCRISY"........ - 9/1/2012   3:31:12 PM
  • 209
    The role of a politician/administrator/legislator
    is to see to the best interest of those they represent - no matter their own vices. I have no problem with Bloomberg (or anyone else) recognizing what would be in everyone's best interest even if he doesn't practice the same. - 4/2/2011   11:05:36 PM
  • 208
    It's a manifestation of the "Nannie-State" we are living in ...under the umbrella of 'Political Correctness.' If we educated rather than 'Ruling from the Throne,' people could then make educated choices and suffer the consequences of their decisions. Sounds harsh? It is, I am just so sick of this "Do as I say, not as I do' elitist activity. Sorry for the rant! - 5/7/2010   8:23:02 AM
  • _MAOMAO_
    This article says Bloomberg USED to smoke. Hey, having quit is a plus! Yes, policy makers should practice what they preach. But this legislating what foods restaurants and stores are allowed to sell is just plain stupid. If policy makers - and the rest of us - practice what we preach, there won't be a market for many of those foods. Let's put them out of business the old fashioned way - by not buying them! - 5/7/2010   1:54:22 AM
  • 206
    'Do as I say, not as I do' seems like bull to me. I say, "practice what you preach" because to ME, actions speak VOLUMES more than words ever will.
    Congrat's to the Mayor for quitting smoking, it's something that millions struggle with every day.
    Let's take the positive approach & celebrate each other's achievments, rather than droan on about their mishaps. I have never seen a picture or video of Obama smoking, so that tells me chances are, he may just be a social smoker, having 1 on occasion. This could mean he is trying to quit. whatever the case we don't know so how can we critisize? That is his own personal battle.

    As for Michelle, for someone who advocates a healthy lifestyle as she does, I have a hard time believe she enjoys those foods often, if at all. Appearing on a show to cook doesn't mean eating it, does it? And if she did, so what?! We all eat things we shouldn't on occasion!
    As for Bloomberg, well as for all of them, yes, they should all practice what they preach but b/c they are all in spot lights, anytime they do something wrong, everyone is quick to point it out. They are still human beings. If any one of us were put under a microscope I am sure they press would have a feild day w / our habits!
    So basically, practice what you preach, but be real about it. No one is perfect. :)

    (which is why spell check would be great for the Daily Spark!) - 5/6/2010   11:49:44 AM
  • 205
    Ouch, that's a tough one.

    I'm going to say that if he or she is a medical health professional making medical policy decisions, then yes, he or she should practice what they preach.

    However, for someone who has ideals about public health and wants the best for the population, even though he or she may be drinking soda and pouring on the salt, then that's a reflection of ideals and should be considered, while not good that there is hypocrisy, at least an admirable attempt to stem the tide of public health decline.

    I'm really against those in the medical field who are obese or overweight telling us that we need to be trim though. It isn't like we don't know this already, and it isn't as if he or she is practicing what they preach. Maybe if we had better role models, we would have more incentive to be trim. I don't know. - 5/6/2010   11:01:26 AM
  • 204
    its simple...practice what you preach. - 5/6/2010   9:58:27 AM
  • 203
    there is always some-one ready to tell you what you should or shouldn't eat.Sometimes, it may be a good reason, proven by research; more often than not its an opinion, which they believe, and feel you should too. And now, its getting mixed up with politics, religion, and down right greed. If it is medically proven, then we should consider it. If not, it should be consigned to the
    'old wives tales' folder until there is verifiable proof its correct. Some of the 'old wives' got it right so I suppose even a politician might do too. Remember; if we listened to all the stories about things being bad for us , we wouldn't eat anything, drink any thing,wear anything, touch anything, or do anything- and that could include voting for these weirdos who think they are the answer to all our problems. In the end, its up to the individual, and in a free world that is how it should stay! - 4/8/2010   6:39:27 PM
  • 202
    What I put in to my body is my business and no politition is going to tell me how to eat and live my life. We can not legislate lifestyle. Each one of us are in charge of your own destiny. - 4/2/2010   9:08:18 PM
    I applaud the mayor of New York for banning transfats. When you order food in a restaurant, you don't know what the food was fried in, or what that is on your toast, and it would be a relief to know that it isn't a poison. I wish that they would do the same where I live. I could care less what he (Mayor Bloomberg) eats or drinks, he has our health in mind. If I have a hankering for hydrogentated fats, I can always go out and buy some Crisco.
    - 4/1/2010   2:46:10 PM
  • 200
    Lead by example - not by the "do as I say, not as I do" mentality. - 4/1/2010   8:10:38 AM
  • 199
    Not only should they be made to practice what they preach but they should be put on the same health care system that is going to be forced on us. No special deals for Washington bureaucrats. If you pass the bill, you should have to use it yourself.
    Erin - 11/10/2009   11:14:29 PM
  • FOX2566
    Let he/she who is innocent among you cast the first stone! LOL! - 11/4/2009   10:31:08 PM
  • 197
    How do you leave politics out of a politically centered article?
    Hypocrites should be harassed - 10/25/2009   9:02:55 AM
    Funny...my doctor told me that I was overweight, again, despite the fact that I've recently lost 20 lbs. She didn't want to hear about the weight I'd lost. She's given me no help (recommendations to Nutritionists, help finding a place to swim, which is the only exercise recommended for people with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, no idea what my baseline beats per minute should be...etc.), she just wants me to know that she thinks I'm fat.

    Finally, I got so frustrated with her negativity that I blurted out, "You know...I have a really difficult time taking this from someone who's fat!" She was clearly taken aback, and I said, "Yeah, I said it. You have at least 30 lbs. to lose, and you're telling me that I need to exercise at least 90 mins a day, but I'm not thinking that you're doing that. How do you fit in a 90 minute session a day? When do you do it? Do you do it?"

    She couldn't answer me. She just turned it back on me and told me that's what I needed to do...diet and exercise...well, thank you, Kreskin. I KNOW THAT! Everyone knows THAT!

    Anyway, that happened 2 years ago. That doctor never said a word to me, but she's lost 30 lbs. I stopped seeing her after that day, but my father in law (who doesn't know the story) told me, "I saw Dr. X yesterday. Boy, she looks good. She lost about 30 lbs!"

    I just smiled. Good for her. I'm proud of her, but I'm proud of me too. Dangit...I lost 20+ lbs. and the least she could do is acknowledge that I'm doing something right!

    If you're going to preach it...practice it. If you can't do it, don't beat someone else over the head for not being able to do it. On the other hand...just because you're unable to conquer your vices doesn't mean that you don't know they are vices. I know that I have weight to lose, what I needed were practical solutions to the problem. If Michelle Obama can eat some fried foods and still maintain arms like that...I'd like to see her talk about that. If Bloomberg was able to quit smoking, I'd like to hear how he did it. If Dr. Benjamin has practical solutions to maintaining weightloss that have worked for her, even if she is not at a perfect weight (like me, perhaps she has weighed more, and can share how to weigh less...but not be perfect), I'd like to hear that.

    So, let's hear some of that. The imperfections make us human, but the successes make us inspirational. - 10/15/2009   11:28:12 AM
  • 195
    I believe that the further politcos and policy makers stay out of our lives, the better off we are. Today they want to micro-manage the food we eat and the cars we drive. That's only a small step from giving them the power to regulate what we can read or say. If I honestly thought that they had the general welfare of the population in mind it would be different but I view their posturing as a way to further intrude into and control our lives. - 10/6/2009   7:58:45 AM
    I think that we are all human. Remembering that everyone struggles with their set backs (smoking, eating the wrongs foods, eating extra salt ect.) makes us closer. I can relate to someone who struggles with the same things I do and can take comfort in their advice knowing that they too could know how hard it is. - 10/5/2009   11:24:46 PM
  • 193
    People might say that his health choices say something about his judgment. I guess I could agree to that to a minor extent. Leaving Dr. Benjamin to a different discussion (although C. Everett Koop was no lightweight either but he was a man and allowed); anything that symbolizes their judgment is fair game for politicians. The First Lady is not an elected official and her judgment is not up for discussion. What bothers me about the shots people take at her is that she is otherwise healthy and takes very good care of herself. So what if she enjoys a little excess now and then? I'd hate to be around someone who was so devoid of joy that he or she couldn't allow themselves a little treat now and then.

    Do we stop politicians who have never been in the military from taking a stand on war? Do we deny fundamentalist politicians from dealing with subjects such as curriculum or birth control? Politicians have to be like the rest of us; flawed or they couldn't represent us. I would hope that when Mayor Bloomburg talks about nutrition, he does so with a handful of peer reviewed studies and a couple of nutritionists at his side. My doctor starts every year's discussion on my health with "I know I could stand to loose a couple of pounds..." It doesn’t make her unable to counsel me on my weight. As a matter of fact, her struggle may make her better able to help me.
    - 10/4/2009   2:31:13 PM
  • 192
    I can't keep my own life on track - I can't hold other people to a higher standard than I want to be held to. We all know how we should live - I haven't met the person yet who does. - 10/3/2009   7:06:43 PM
  • 191
    As long as my insurance premiums and medical costs are affected by what others are doing to and with their bodies, yes, I very much want politicians to model and regulate the food industry! I'm so thankful that because of legislation, nutritional information is available and even required in some states. I can't wait until nutritional information on menus is included here in MI!

    Should politicians walk their talk? Definitely! Should they be ostracized for overcoming a former bad habit and having bad habits? No, everyone is human. What is important is that politicians are honest about their habits and that we (their critics) support them in improving themselves, just as we do each other on SP. Should there be a t.v. show about grease in which Michelle Obama is a guest? Why not? Do I expect to see her cooking with Paula Dean once a month? Um, no. - 10/1/2009   10:10:46 AM
  • 190
    I think if anyone wants to instruct others, they should be the best example of the practice. Period. It doesn't matter what it is. - 10/1/2009   2:30:51 AM
  • 189
    I believe he is trying to do a very good thing - after all I need to watch my calories and it will be easier if the restaurant has to tell you. As far as the sodium - some of us have to watch closer than others, much easier to salt your food yourself than to have it in already. And three cups of coffee - well that would get me out the door....Good thing I drink it black because I have much more than three. - 9/30/2009   2:21:24 PM
  • 188
    I try to keep in mind that we are all 'works in progress'. I could certainly get called on the carpet for some of my former vices, but if you didn't know about them, I could now be considered a very good role model for a healthy lifestyle. However, I think it would a very boring story if I'd never had to overcome any bad habits...yes, I was born perfect, how do you like me now?

    The fact that someone is battling their weight, reaching for that third cup of coffee or have had past habits that were less than ideal only makes the daily good decisions more important and more inspiring. Bloomberg's attention to more accountable nutrition regulations is a good decision. - 9/29/2009   12:46:08 PM
  • 187
    Unfortunately, individual freedom is being threatened in this country. We must, as a country, decide if we want this much government intrusion. Personal responsibility must be our new battle cry. This means being overweight is YOUR responsibility. This attitude must extend to health care as well. Let us fix or not fix our own problems. - 9/29/2009   11:29:40 AM
    Seriously??? Last I checked it is an individual decision as to what to put into one's body...are we considering government control over this too??? Look at who you are using as examples...none of these people are worth modeling one's life after!!! - 9/28/2009   8:28:57 PM
  • 185
    It is certainly difficult to listen to someone who can't follow his/her own advice. Everyone is human, but those who obviously are not following their own dictates might want to rethink their soapbox. - 9/28/2009   6:50:11 PM
  • KASEY2009
    Bloomberg for President! Well, maybe. Nonetheless, I think he is right on track.

    "Bloomberg enjoys at least three cups of coffee daily, liberally shakes salt on everything he eats, and formerly smoked" First...coffee is not necessarily bad for everyone, and three cups is not excessive. Second, personally I'd rather add salt to my prepared food, than have excessive amounts added to my meal for me. It takes an awful lot of shaker salt (1 tsp = 2300 mg sodium) to equal just one meal in a fast food restaurant. Also, not everyone's blood pressure is affected by sodium. And, lastly, "he used to smoke". Yes, but he quit...what's wrong with that? If everyone who now smokes changes to "used to smoke", would that be bad?

    His initiatives are about individual choice and education. Wow, wouldn't it be nice if all politicians approached governing in that way! - 9/28/2009   3:21:54 PM
    I don't think you can leave politics out of a topic if the article is about poilitcal figures. We all have the choice to read and particiapte or not.

    We all also have the choice to smoke, eat poorly, not excercise (with the exception of those physically challenged) etc. It is ludicrous to me to have heath care proposals made by smokers or others who make poor health choices. Leaders and politicians need to clean up their own side of the street before legislating the rest of us in our health choices.

    - 9/28/2009   12:24:23 PM
  • 182
    Provide the information. Let others come to their own decision. - 9/28/2009   11:06:23 AM
  • 181
    Huh!!!! Politicians???? They will say anything to get popularity or votes.
    I'm a t total cynic AFA they are concerned! - 9/28/2009   8:25:13 AM
  • 180
    I applaud (where is my applause emoticon when I need it?) Mr Mayor.

    He is doing a wonderful job. I wish all other mayors would follow suit. We would have a healthy living revolution which is so needed right now.

    Have you seen the amount of sugar in a can of soda lately? Oh, and those chemicals mimicking sugar in those diet/sugar free sodas?

    Tell me that ten years from now, there won't be a study coming out to reveal the damaging effects of sucralose or what have you!

    We ought to give Mr Mayor Bloomberg a huge cheer.

    Prevention is the answer to our health issues.
    - 9/28/2009   2:11:50 AM
  • 179
    Heres my 2 cents worth. I have often felt that policy makers should go by those same policies they help put into place. and not just food! If they vote that welfare should be reduced or social security ages be risen, then let THEM live for a year on what they expect the rest of the poor people to live on. Let THEM have to go by the standards of health care the rest of us do by having to switch doctors, or not get a prescription because if we do the rent won't get paid. Let THEM hear their dr tell them you have to eat healthier and then go to the store and try to make healthy choices with what little money they have. NO! I am not on welfare. I am a health care giver and I see this all the time. Let congress live by the same poor choices they give poor people and lets see how they do it. - 9/27/2009   11:46:58 PM
  • 178
    There is an old saying, "Do as I say, not as I do.". And although I believe that people should practice what they preach; I think that it is more important for me to follow wise instruction regardless of the example of the person who gave the instruction. Truth is truth not matter who speaks it. - 9/27/2009   10:38:24 PM
  • 177
    hey, we are all human. how do we know if the people in question WANT to eat or so the right things but fail daily as they may lose the battle. we shouldnt hold them to higher standards than we hold ourselves or ones we love. each day is a new opportunity to "get it right". - 9/27/2009   9:05:37 PM
  • 176
    hey, we are all human. how do we know if the people in question WANT to eat or so the right things but fail daily as they may lose the battle. we shouldnt hold them to higher standards than we hold ourselves or ones we love. each day is a new opportunity to "get it right". - 9/27/2009   9:05:37 PM
  • 175
    I'm in the UK. Since the smoking in public places ban came into force the numbers of people asking for help to quit has risen dramatically - that has got to be a good thing for the nations health as well as for children in their household who are subjected to parents 'second hand' smoke. I do think that if people in authority are legislating on something they should TRY to lead by example - even if they are honest about it and say they smoke but they used to smoke x cigarettes per day and they are TRYING to quit. Don't forget the manufacturers of cigarettes actually add substance to them to make them more addictive, in the past people may have started smoking in ignorance of the harm they do and unaware of manufacturers deliberately producing something they know will make it hard to stop once started.

    The facts about both cigarettes and constituents of the food we eat should be transparently available so that people can make informed choices. There was a program on TV here a while ago that set up a table with common lunchtime food choices and asked people which they thought was the most healthy - many people chose a 'Subway' salad baguette type roll and were horrified when they learnt what was in it. I would welcome legislation that made the industry come clean with exactly what is in the foods they sell so that people can make informed choices.

    If they then choose unhealthy choices knowingly - that is their right. Public figures who advocate healthy choices for others should I believe TRY to lead by example, but as has already been said - we are all human. 'Let he who is without sin cast the first stone'! - 9/27/2009   7:55:15 PM
  • WANDAC2013
    Regarding Michelle Obama, I'm sure she is not advocating eating greasy foods every day. Once in a great while it is fine to have such foods and if /when you do, why not have the best!?! As for Bloomberg, he is a FORMER smoker and as for the salt, I don't know how his blood pressure is....if it tends to run low, the salt is not going to be an issue for him. The surgeon general should absolutely lose weight and Obama needs to quit smoking, but I think his public struggle with the smokes can be spun in a positive light....ie he is trying to quit, so maybe some young people will see it is something that they should not start doing. Ultimately, should policy makers practice what they preach? Oh, hell yes!!! But, realistically, will they? NO! And they won't have to have the dreaded Obama-care (if it passes) for insurance either, will they? - 9/27/2009   7:48:55 PM
    Of course people should practice what they preach, but people in public office have a responsibility to point out health care challenges to the public. What they then choose to do with the information they have provided has the same merit as what we choose to do with the information. I doubt there is a person alive who would preach that cigarrettes, soda, high-fat diets, or illegal narcotics are good for you, but you will still find people making those choices every day. - 9/27/2009   4:59:55 PM
  • 172
    Oh, indeed we speak loudest when our words and actions match. Indeed it would be wonderful if we were all perfect. However, realistically none of us are and none of us succeed in all our endeavors. While we are searching for that perfect leader without vices, all offices would be empty and the world would slide into chaos. - 9/27/2009   4:26:01 PM
  • 171
    These people make more than enough money to buy "healthy" food and have access to gyms and are well educated, so I certainly think they SHOULD practice what they preach. - 9/27/2009   1:14:55 PM
  • 170
    Oy - this is SUCH a sticky issue.

    On the one hand, I feel people are human, even those in the public eye. I know President Obama isn't thrilled to be a smoker, and I suspect he has tried to quit. (As a side note, would we really want the President of the United States enacting legislation and foreign policy while going through nicotine withdrawal?!!) Dr. Benjamin has a health issue that has contributed to her weight issues. As another poster pointed out, Mayor Bloomberg might already have cut back from 12 cups of coffee, eating salt straight-up, and he's a *former* smoker, so he may already have made healthier choices. Not great choices, but better than they used to be.

    OTOH, as a parent I know how important it is to "practice what you preach", otherwise your words are highly suspect. I would hope that any legislation that they would enact that results in a penalty for poor health choices - smoking, drinking soda, etc. - would apply to them as well as the general public. If they can't change their habits, at least they can publicly accept the consequences to their actions. - 9/27/2009   10:58:21 AM
  • 169
    Some people here have ignored SparkPeople's request to take politics out of their comments. Personally, I wish this topic had never been raised here. I can read about politics on political forums, if I so choose. I don't come to SP to read about politics!! - 9/27/2009   10:32:19 AM
  • 168
    As we have learned, it's about moderation. What may be required for health in one person's diet may or may not be in anothers. As policy makers, information should be shared and healthy lifestyles encouraged. But I am not perfect why should policy makers have to be? - 9/27/2009   9:47:43 AM
    Separation of Church and State already happened - get over it, if they can "lead" who cares who they eat? Seriously... - 9/27/2009   3:30:29 AM
  • 166
    I try to live a healthful lifestyle, but I'm certainly not perfect. I still eat things that aren't the best choices, I occasionally smoke, and every now and then, I don't workout, usually simply because of lack of sleep.

    It would be better if they would 'practice what they preach.' But we are all human, and I don't think there is anything wrong with enjoying a food that's not the 'best choice' sometimes, or not doing a workout one day due to being tired. Everything really 'comes out in the wash.' We should look at 'overall' performance of the people advocating various healthy behavior rather than focusing on one aspect of their behavior. - 9/27/2009   12:29:25 AM
    While I am all for educating people about the pitfalls of eating or drinking unhealthy things, I think the government(local, state or federal) has no business putting extra taxes on certain things. Taxing us to death is no way to get anybody to eat healthier, All it does is make people angry and frustrated and probably raises their blood pressure!

    And, if the government is trying to legislate "common sense" they should start with themselves. - 9/26/2009   8:47:32 PM
  • 164
    It is hard to take health advice from someone engaging in unhealthy habits themselves, however, everyone is human. If they are going to preach it, though, they should practice as much as possible. - 9/26/2009   8:12:58 PM
  • 163
    I don't believe these responses are knit picking. Every one has an opinion. I do believe if an official is going to endorse something they should believe in what they are endorsing. They should not contridict themselves in their policies.
    If you believe in something you should practice what you preach or you look like you submit to double standards. In other words you are a liar and love public attention! - 9/26/2009   3:53:30 PM

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