Commentary by Bill Buchanan
I am curious to see what New York hopes to accomplish by proposing a ban on super-sized soft drinks. If approved, New York will prohibit the sale of drinks sweetened with sugar that contain more than 16 ounces which are served in restaurants, ballparks, movie theaters, and by street cart vendors. I am also interested to see if any other large cities, or even states, follow suit. I can sense that there are those in this state who are already drooling at the prospect of imposing a similar ban.
The idea behind the ban is to curb obesity, especially among youth. Youthful obesity is a major problem in this country, and is getting worse. Obesity contributes to juvenile diabetes, whose rate of growth in this country is alarming, with 15,000 new cases diagnosed each year in those less than 20 years of age. Health effects of diabetes can be severe, including kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage, amputations, heart attack and stroke. If obesity trends are not reversed, the life expectancy of upcoming generations could actually be lower than previous generations.
I like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He is intelligent, effective and honest Ñ three attributes not associated with many politicians these days. But this proposed ban is stupid. Why? There are so many reasons. Yes, soft drinks are calorie-laden. A 16-ounce non-diet soft drink contains anywhere from 150 to 200 calories. These are empty calories, with little or no nutritional value. But merely limiting the size of sugary drinks is not really addressing the problem.
If reducing obesity is your goal, why target one particular contributing cause and not others? I need to lose weight, too. But I do not drink a lot of soft drinks, and when I do, I drink the diet variety. This ban would have no effect on people who are overweight, but for whom soft drinks are not a factor. What good is limiting people to a soft drink serving of 16 ounces if they super-size the rest of their meal? You accomplish nothing.
The proposed ban is a flagrant example of government overreach by the “nanny state.” Soft drinks are not healthy, but they are legal. Government has no business trying to moderate their use by attempting to take the place of parental guidance, or in the case of adults, self-control.
This is simply another case of arrogant politicians placating misguided crusaders with a feel-good proposal that does nothing to actually solve the problem, then standing around basking in their own self-congratulatory glow. Could we please place a ban on that?