NYC Banning Large Sugary Drinks. What next Mr. Bloomberg? Extra butter on the popcorn?

If you’ve been reading my blog for some time, you know how I feel about poor diet and unhealthy food choices. Hell, I even convinced my family to become almost vegan recently  (oops…did I not tell you that? More on that later.) because I think we should eat more plants. And because I think of you as my family, I will be the first one to tell you to eat more fruits and veggies – preferably organic – don’t eat processed foods, eat less sweets, avoid GMO’s, drink more (filtered) water, and the list goes on. Also, did I tell you I took my family to a screening of Supersize Me and wrote “Fat Sick and Nearly Dead Inspired Juice Recipe” on Eat Drink Better? So I get the whole being obese thing.

But when I read late last night, that NYC’s mayor Bloomberg is proposing to ban large sized (larger than 16 oz) sugary drinks (that are more than 25 calories per 8 oz.) –  in restaurants, delis, food carts, movie theaters, and sports arenas, starting as soon as next March, I was not thrilled.  What was even more ridiculous was that, according to NY Times, “The measure would not apply to diet sodas, fruit juices, dairy-based drinks like milkshakes, or alcoholic beverages; it would not extend to beverages sold in grocery or convenience stores.” … and places where free refills are allowed.

I don’t understand it. I KNOW sugary soda is bad. I know it can lead to obesity. And I know obesity can lead to diabetes but banning sodas will NOT solve the problem. Banning larger than 16 oz sodas from people, just so that they can spend additional money to buy another one, is not going to solve the obesity problem in NYC.

When my family’s goes to the movie theater,  maybe once a year, we do buy a humongous sized soda and four of us share it because it’s cheeper to buy the large size – you know, the good ole, ‘for extra 25 cents, you can get the next large size...’ trick that they play on us? Well, we gladly fall for that because it’s so much cheaper AND we can’t finish 2 medium sizes! But now we’d be forced to buy 2 mediums?

What I see is that it’s taking away the rights of people for buying what we want to buy. What’s next on this list of bans? I know there is already a ban on raw milk because of a few bugs they found but do they know the benefit of drinking raw milk from your local farmer? Are they going to ban raw honey too? Are they going to ban extra butter on popcorn at movie theaters because it’s bad for you you too? Where does this end?

You know what will help? Stop subsidizing High Fructose Corn Syrup to make it so cheap to sweeten the foods. How about educating kids about healthy eating habits? How about real health classes? How about adding more P.E. classes instead of taking them away? How about educating the public about obesity and offering free screenings and exercise classes? And do they think milkshake and diet sodas are OK to consume in massive quantities? And alcohol too?

I posted my dilemma about this on Facebook in a group I belong to and we had a healthy (pun intended) dose of discussion about this. I posted my dilemma about the difference between the soda ban and the plastic bag ban. I was jumping up and down in joy about CA banning plastic bags and hoping it would come to NY. But this sugary drink ban made me stop and think about my feelings.

What is the difference between banning plastic bag and sugary drinks? Some argued, plastic has wider consequences on the environment than sugary drinks. Plastic bags have far more reach in the environment, especially the innocent animals that die from ingesting them, whereas sugary drinks only affects us humans who choose to drink massive quantities to contribute to their obesity problem. Plastic problem causes environmental issues globally compared to large sized sugary soda that affect the health of select  people with poor dietary habits. But then, I know that we’d all be paying for those poor diet habits soon enough, as Beth Terry agreed, “Society ends up paying for people’s bad health decisions through increasing health care costs.” Still, is it ok to impose on our rights to buy products that we want to buy? Some might argue about the smoking ban. But again, there is a difference between sugary drinks that people can curtail and addictive nicotine that’s been found to kill people and yet, cigarettes are not banned completely.

Here is Jenn Savedge, who immediately wrote about the ban on Mother Nature Network, who stated that,

America is a country of choices.  We don’t always make good ones.  In fact, more often than not, many of us make terrible choices.  But they are still our choices to make.  And when you start to take away those choices, you start down a slippery slope of bans and prohibitions that seriously endanger the rights of Americans. -Jenn Savedge from Mother Nature Network.

That’s exactly how I feel about this ban.

So, while NYC’s mayor might have felt frustrated that his efforts to pass the soda tax was turned down in Albany and his idea to restrict food stamps from buying sodas was rejected by federal regulators, his taking matters into his own hands by down right banning it, just seems too socialistic or un-American to me. He doesn’t address the issue of other mitigating factors that contribute to people’s obesity, like types of foods they are eating, lack of exercise, cultural environment, cost of healthy foods, and lack of education on what’s considered healthy to eat.

What do you think? How would you feel if your town banned large sized soda, in the name of your health?

Image by Digging for Fire