If you don’t live in or around New York, or have lived under a rock you might not have heard about the ban on sodas over 16oz that Mayor Bloomberg proposed. Basically any sugary sodas, teas, energy drinks, coffee drinks, etc cannot be sold in sizes over 16 ounces. Diet sodas and drinks with at least 50% milk or 70% fruit or vegetable juice are exempt which bothers me.
For right now businesses like convenience stores and supermarkets or any business that does not get a food grade from the health department do not have to comply with the ban as well as newsstands and vending machines, but we will see how long that lasts.
So how do I feel about this?
Well it doesn’t totally effect me, I don’t really buy soda much but it bothers me that we think that this is the answer to the battle with obesity. I can say first hand what made me over-weight was not my soda consumption. When I was growing up my parents had a 5 gallon water cooler right next to our dinner table and that was what we drank with dinner and our soda was in a separate fridge in our family room and we had to ask if we could have one. My battle was with lack of exercise and food choices, which I think is a majority of our issues. Sure by taking away some of the bad choices you are helping some, but a lot of people will just buy a second portion. So say a person wanted to buy a 20oz bottle of Coke but now is only left with 12oz cans. If they buy 2 cans they will consume 24oz instead of the 20oz that they wanted in the first place. Maybe not everyone will go to those length, but we all know that will happen.
What bothers me the most about this ban is that diet sodas are exempt. We all know how I feel about artificial sugars (if not you can read here). Diet sodas have been shown to be worse, they can make you crave more sweets and eat more. Sure the drink themselves aren’t empty calories but people still drink these drinks in excess as well.
I feel like instead of a ban on large drinks why don’t we start with maybe banning high fructose corn syrup or ban the huge price of water. When I go to the movies I can get a soda so big I have to use two hands to hold it up for the same price as a small 500ml bottle of water. Or when I go to an amusement park I can buy a refillable soda bottle for 10 bucks and only spend 99 cents to fill it the entire season or have to spend 4 dollars a bottle for a small bottle of water every time I am thirsty. Many people cannot afford that, and it really isn’t fair that we should have to spend that much on the healthy choice. Really the way this system is set up is like we are being rewarded for choosing the unhealthy option.
When I posted this link to a Huffington Post article about it on my Facebook wall one of my friends had a great response. She pointed out that most of the places that are targeted like movie theaters and restaurants are places that people don’t go to everyday but places like 711 and my bodega on the corner of my street which I do go to on a regular basis can sell any size. So really how well is this ban actually going to work?
We should spend our time educating people about what they are eating and also start with kids. I know I am old and since I was in school times have changed, but when I was in school the only thing that was available that was vegetarian was pizza and french fries. The only thing available other than milk and water from a water fountain (which was completely inconvenient) were Snapples and a drink called Fruitopia (does anyone remember those?) which most likely had no fruit in it and the first ingredient was high fructose corn syrup. From what I have been reading on Facebook it seems like they are still offering these as choices.
On top of this we should be educating people on the importance of exercise. Remember the post I wrote about being skinny fat? Obesity comes in all sizes and by just changing what we eat and drink won’t totally heal the obesity problems of the world. If only it were that easy! We need to stress the importance of exercise and then a 20oz soda every now and then won’t make as much of a difference. I think I am totally the proof that omitting soda and doing nothing else isn’t going to work. Every pound that I have lost has been hours in the gym, just by changing my diet (which wasn’t bad to begin with) did nothing but keep me at a stable over-weight. Diet alone does not speed up our metabolism only exercise will do that and that is what we all need not the government telling us we can’t have a root beer every once in a while.
How do you feel about this ban? do you want to see it move to other cities?