“Bloomberg seems to be a sort of a classic example of somebody who has the particular obsessions of the upper class when it comes to health issues,” said Paul Campos, a professor of law at the University of Colorado and author of The Diet Myth. “In particular, he seems obsessed with weight.”

While you can still eat quite well in New York, you can’t eat just anything, and you can’t eat anything any way you want. Trans fats are illegal and chain restaurants with 15 locations or more are required by law to include calorie information on their menus.

“You basically have people who have a kind of personal, neurotic relationship to their weight, who then turn this toward public health policy,” Campos said. “This business with calorie counts, and other initiatives, seems to speak to the idea that people are too fat; especially the idea that making people thinner is a reasonable goal for public health intervention. It would make no sense whatsoever if people weren’t projecting their own neuroses on the data.”…

Actually, Bloomberg was merely adapting early-20th century reform techniques to the modern era. Early reformers were ”quite successful at eradicating disease,” says Jacob Sullum, author of “For Your Own Good: The Anti-Smoking Crusade and the Tyranny of Public Health.” The problem, he points out, is that public health threats like typhus, botulism and DDT have largely disappeared. What remain are diseases like cancer, heart disease and adult-onset diabetes, “things that involve a whole bunch of different lifestyle variables; things that people voluntarily do.” Changing these behaviors is a lot more complicated than posting meat inspectors in slaughterhouses. And it requires far more coercion.