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Aggressive Anti-Obesity Campaign Kicks Sodas to the Curb

Take a look at the graphic below to get an idea of how obesity and soda consumption are related in the NYC area (courtesy of New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene):

There obviously seems to be a correlation between consumption and corpulence. But as much as this approach makes sense on paper, is it the most sensible strategy toward battling obesity and promoting good eating habits? These sorts of “sin taxes” are often viewed as overly moral and far too dogmatic to actually take. It also runs the risk of being overly paternal and dictatorial in tone (“You can’t have your dessert until you eat all of your growing food”), which may well result in feelings of persecution and objectification by the underprivileged. Maybe a better tact would be making the inherent value of the food stamps (or more commonly known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) to be greater when used in the purchase of healthier whole foods, rather than sodas and junk foods. Some critics of this proposed plan see it as a potential PR disaster, as well as a logistical nightmare waiting to happen, and are more eager to propose alternate options, like a calorie cap.

Regardless of whether or not this proposal takes and effectively restricts the flow of calorie-rich sodas to food stamp recipients, there remains a serious and significant health and obesity crisis in this country. Do you feel these sort of government sponsored measures, making soda an out of pocket expense, do much to address the problem? Is this just infantilizing a portion of the population? Or should we resort to a “by any means” necessary line of attack when contending with our national heath and obesity crisis?

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.


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3:26PM PDT on Jul 25, 2012

So wrong! Since when is it OK to patronize the poor?

6:56PM PDT on Sep 23, 2011

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3:45AM PST on Nov 16, 2010

I like sodas but stay away as much as possible.

3:03PM PST on Nov 9, 2010

Obese people are the victims of bigotry and hatred by the left. Leftists are obsessed by fat. Mind your own business!

3:00PM PST on Nov 9, 2010

Lika S. Cut out the carbs. No crackers of any kind, grains, rice, potatoes, corn, pasta, grapes, very few legumes. Animal protein is your friend, and eat lots of veggies. Fruits--berries and cantelope are the best. Check your glucose before breakfast and before dinner. Over time, you will see it decrease slowly. You may have to go on meds--not necessarily insulin. Take care of your feet. You can injure them and not know it and get infected and loose a foot. Use a mirror to see the bottoms. Get your eyes checked regularly. Have your kidneys checked with a blood test.

3:17AM PDT on Oct 28, 2010

Sodas are truly awful anyway.

9:41AM PDT on Oct 25, 2010

Laura S., Some sodas contain Vitamin's like Hawiian punch for an example. Conventional (refrigerated) OJ does not contain much fiber anywhere between 1 to 2 grams, unless you get high pulp (most people don't like) if anything you would folks to eat the actual orange and not drink the juice of four compressed oranges.

Over the shelf (non-refrigerated) OJ contains perservatives. These are typically cheaper.

9:22AM PDT on Oct 25, 2010

This is what I am trying to figure out, OJ has more sugar than any soda and cause GI reactions. Why not ban OJ?

1:19PM PDT on Oct 21, 2010

I don't care. What I do care about is the precedent this action creates and all the precedent setting actions before it. At least now I know that Gov Chrissy of WA State didn't think of this stuff. She stole the ideas. I knew it was beyond her capabilities. So, just how much intrusion should "Big Brother" have into our lives? The argument is that since they are paying the bill for this, they have the right to set the rules. I agree, but then it should apply straight across the board, even to those countries that we give financial aide to as they should do exactly as we say or no money. Little or small, same idea.

7:20PM PDT on Oct 20, 2010

We give food stamps to the needy in order to nourish them, not to subsidize junk, which is worse than useless as a help to food stamp recipients. If they want to wreck their health, let them do it on their own, not on the public dime.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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