Drink Downsizing: Is the Proposed NYC Soda Ban a Good Thing?
Without a doubt, the consumption of sugary soda drinks is a major contributing factor to what is deemed as our current “obesity epidemic.” And when you consider consumers are routinely buying such sodas in epic proportions, like the ever-popular Big Gulp sold at 7-Eleven, you start gathering a keen understanding as to why we are fighting this losing battle against obesity. To give you a sense of what a 44 oz Big Gulp consists of, here is a breakdown: with 6 oz of ice and approximately 38 oz of soda, you are looking at about 128 grams of sugar and about 512 calories from a drink that most people consume within an hour. This is about one-fourth of your suggested daily caloric intake, and it greatly exceeds what is advisable for sugar intake (adults should not exceed 40 grams of sugar in a 24-hour period). So any sober reflection and/or action on curbing such excessive consumption should be welcomed.
Well New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made a bold, but clearly nearsighted, proposal to ban restaurants, delis and movie theaters from serving large cups of soda and other sugary drinks in anything larger than a 16-ounce cup. Under this proposed ban, if you want something larger than a reasonably sized 16-ounce cup of soda (this size used to be considered “large” back in the day) consumers will need to purchase two, or more, cups of their favorite sugary drink. The ban would impose a 16-ounce limit on any sugary bottled or fountain drinks that contain more than 25 calories per 8 ounces. Diet soda would not be affected by the ban, and any drink that is at least half milk or milk substitute would be exempt (this means fans of massive Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccinos are safe – for now). Predictably, people who profit off these drinks (which have a hugely high mark up) are none too pleased by the proposal. Neither are the masses of big gulpers who love to nurse their half gallons of soda all day long.
As much as I would love to see soda become an infrequent indulgence for all, and as much as I feel it is the cause for a lot of our domestic health problems, I can’t really stand up and support Bloomberg on this particular tactic. By requiring consumers to buy more cups (thus creating more trash and resentment) you are not imparting any true lesson or perspective on the drinking masses, you are only creating complications. Even John Stewart joked about Bloomberg’s proposal and said, “It combines the Draconian government overreach people love with the probable lack of results they expect!”
Can you get behind such a proposal or do you find it too paternalistic? Do you think going the route of education would yield better results? How can we get people to curb their thirst for sodas that are obviously doing harm to the nation?