As much as people attempt to disapprove, patronize, and focus efforts on combating the growing problem of obesity and weight gain in America, the fact is that although it is a great and important issue, the health decisions of some of even this scrutinizing multitude are what truly deserve attention. More than one-third of Americans are overweight, with sugar at the forefront of the widespread gang of culprits. Yet, even for those of a healthy BMI are guilty of drinking the 216 liters of soda that gets sold per year in the country, from movie theaters, restaurants, the local grocery store, and virtually every street vendor in New York City. In the fifties, the average cup of soda was for an adult was about eight ounces, while today, it has increased to twelve merely for a child’s portion. The risks of constant consumption may very well lead to weight gain, but have consequences that include heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. Children who at youth become accustomed to large portion sizes may be setting themselves up for a lifetime of these problems.
In order to combat this growing health hazard, the mayor of New York City has proposed a ban that is rallying its inhabitants, pleasing some and creating disquieting and adamant opposition from others. Jarred not only by the rise in obesity and other health problems but also the increasing reliance on soda, his decision to illegalize drinks and even cups over 16 ounces, and other fountain drinks that are over 25 calories per eight ounces. The ban will span restaurants, movie theatres, street vendors, and sports venues, yet would not include corner stores and other grocery shops.
There is, however, widespread opposition to this ban ranging from soda-lovers to the restaurants and soda industries themselves, as well as those against the premise of restraining personal choice. They all raise questions that probe the underlying or secondary motives of this ban. One such blogger for the NY Huffington Post, Audrey Silk, believes that “[the ban] is not about…soda, trans fat, sugar, salt and whatever else they will think of next…It’s about control. And no lie is too great to achieve it.” She further highlights the freedom and free choice that should be barred from citizens should the ban follow through in a skeptical and haughty tone. If protesters and those in opposition to this ban so adamantly despise it, their opinions are merely a testament to how attached one can become to the sugary substance. The situation can be analogous to an epidemic of pie-eating—the argument over free will may be valid, but it should be no excuse for gluttony. As extreme as the legislation seems, the government is not essentially mandating nor dictating how much one chooses to drink; the ‘ban’ merely eliminates the possibility of the sometimes mindless over-consumption of sugary beverages.
Throughout the boroughs of New York, people continue to rally and sign petitions, and a coalition has formed called New Yorkers for Beverage Choices. Yet, in the words of Mayor Bloomberg himself, “If you want to kill yourself…you have a right the right to do it. We’re trying to do something about it.” For a city that alone spends $4 billion dollars on health-related treatments, perhaps the effects of this ban can instigate gradual yet equally beneficial change, based on the effects of this. There are plentiful other sugary drinks that are equally or even more hazardous to health, but to weed out the most accessible source is a wise move on the mayor’s part. Perhaps scientific evidence falls short in pinpointing soda as an exact culprit, and there are foods that people worry may fall into equal scrutiny. To ban this one drink is a large undertaking; yet, perhaps New York City can represent a microcosm of the United States to inspire somewhat of a health revolution. However, in my opinion, the taxing of soda rather than banning it would prove much more beneficial in terms of economics, and the raised prices would hopefully discourage people from buying the larger portions. Nevertheless, the public hearing for the ban is on July 24th, and if approved, will go into effect in March of next year.
As written previously on this website, Clinton is advocating the mayor’s decision, drawing from his fight against diabetes and obesity in America. More may be read about the ban here: http://intellectualyst.com/clinton-supports-soda-ban/