DENVER (AP) — New York City's proposed ban on large sugary drinks sounds extreme — but the governor of the nation's leanest state is listening.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper says elected officials run a political risk for proposing dramatic lifestyle changes that he called "one step away from the nanny state."
But the Democratic governor also said he doesn't see any alternative to dramatic ideas like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's soda proposal. Hickenlooper says the government can't afford not to act to tackle obesity and chronic lifestyle diseases.
Hickenlooper made the remarks to a conference of wellness experts in Aspen this week. He said he'd unveil a wellness platform later this year but gave no specifics what he'd propose.
"Every atom of my being resists this notion of some of the things that Mayor Bloomberg was trying to push in New York around these large helpings of super-sweetened soft drinks. And yet, if we don't begin looking at certain things like that, the costs are going to be enormous," Hickenlooper told about 300 people at the Aspen Institute Global Spa and Wellness Summit.
A spokesman for the governor elaborated Thursday on the remark.
"The governor was in no way suggesting a ban on soda, nor would he ever. He has no plans to do that," Eric Brown wrote in an email. "The governor was simply saying we need to look at every idea in our pursuit to help make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation."
Hickenlooper's soda remarks elicited scorn from conservatives, though.
"Something about this just doesn't taste right," said Jon Caldara, head of the right-leaning Independence Institute in suburban Denver.
"I would hope that the governor, who has taken an oath to uphold the constitution, would worry more about taking away freedoms than promoting a nanny state," Caldara said.
Hickenlooper, a former brewpub owner, made his soda remarks a day after signing into law a statewide ban on trans fats in school food.
Many schools already cook lunches without the artery-clogging fat, but Colorado's ban went further by applying to school breakfasts and so-called "a la carte" items also for sale in cafeterias. Lawmakers weakened the original trans-fat proposal, which would also have banned trans fats in school fundraisers such as bake sales and sports concessions.
Hickenlooper pointed out this week that Colorado is the nation's leanest state, but he said state policy shouldn't get credit.
"We are the leanest state in America . but before someone gets injured clapping themselves on the back, that's not because of any programs in Colorado. It's because so many young, outdoors-oriented people are attracted to living in Colorado," Hickenlooper said.
The governor said he would outline a bold wellness platform for Colorado later this year. He mentioned efforts to boost youth fitness and creative proposals such as sending firefighters into schools to coach sports. A spokesman for the governor would not elaborate Thursday on what Hickenlooper will propose.
Earlier this week, first lady Michelle Obama also talked about New York's sugary drink proposal. In an interview with The Associated Press, 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," Obama said.