Back Away From My Bevie!

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg got his way yesterday as the Board of Health passed his ban on extra large sweetened beverages purchased from businesses that receive inspection grades from the health department.  The Bloomberg-appointed board was unanimous in voting for the highly criticized and unpopular law that will take effect next spring, with fines being issued to non-compliant establishments beginning in June.

The Mayor’s belief is that if these beverages are not available in such a large size, it will help to reduce the sweeping obesity epidemic in the city.  With over half of the population falling into this category, yes, something does need to be done.  Is restricting the size of your soda the answer?  Not in my opinion. Almost 40% of the students under fourteen in New York’s public schools are overweight.  I agree that sweetened beverages are a large contributor to this problem, but let’s look a little deeper than just a jug of soda.  A peek at the lunch calendar on the city’s website reveals options like the deluxe cheddar burger, mozzarella sticks, processed deli meats and white-flour-laden thick crust pizza and bagels.  Students are encouraged to be in front of screens and do not have physical activity daily in school.  Is soda the real culprit behind obesity?  Not entirely.

One of the things I find perplexing about this ban is the logic behind it, or lack thereof.  Once in place, New Yorkers will no longer be able to go to the movies and enjoy popcorn and a large soda.  Now, if you’re not eating this every day, where is the harm?  And if they really wanted it, they could just order two sodas and get the same amount or more.  Make sense?  Nope, not to me, either.  Fast food patrons will still have access to refills…wait, what?  Basically you just get a bit more exercise walking up to get your remaining drink.  And if you’re really jonesing for a large pick-me-up, you can head to a convenience store where they are exempted from the ban altogether because they are regulated by the state of New York, not the city.  Hail the Big Gulp!

Now, I’m not a sweetened soda drinker; I prefer an occasional diet soda and drink a lot of water.  But wouldn’t it be wiser to teach our children that no food/beverage group is totally off limits?  Whatever happened to everything in moderation?  My kids enjoy a “full-test” soda once in a while.  And even though I heckle them a little, I let it go because I know that is an exception and not the rule.  They are also subject to minimal screen time and extensive physical activity.  Perhaps more education and living by example is the answer, not more government restriction.  If you feel like a real rebel, skip the under-300-calorie twenty ounce soda and opt for a large, nearly 1000 calorie milkshake; for some reason those are still legal.  For now.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. I made a case in the opposite direction (largely about helping to understand reasonable serving size/portion), but I understand and appreciate your view as well.

    Banning sodas will not even come close to stopping obesity, but understanding portion size might be a helpful way to start or bring awareness.

    Reply

  2. Seems to me the problem always comes back to government. It’s more about the people we elect. If we care about this country and its freedoms we better pay BIG attention to who we vote for.What about lining up your values with the people running for office. Besides are we voting for people to up hold the laws already in place like… voter fraud. Never in my life have I seen the government sue a state for upholding the law. Elections are being effected in a HUDGE way are they not. We live in dangerous times. Be wise people.

    Reply

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