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[FitChatter] NYC Soda Ban: A Necessary Step, or a Step in the Wrong Direction? — an article on the Smart Living Network
June 1, 2012 at 3:17 PMComments: 5 Faves: 0

NYC Soda Ban: A Necessary Step, or a Step in the Wrong Direction?

From the FitChatter Blog Series

Welcome back to FitChatter! This week in the news: New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed a ban on all soda servings larger than 16 ounces. Is this a necessary step against obesity, or an unnecessary restriction on freedom?

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg certainly made waves in the headlines this week. Soda lovers, take note: should Bloomberg’s latest proposal be passed, any soda servings larger than 16 ounces will be banned in the city’s restaurants, food carts, and movie theaters.

Unsurprisingly, this idea has been met with a huge outpouring of opinions in the blogosphere, from both sides. After reading one blogger’s opinion piece, I was all ready to denounce the ban as an awful idea. Yes, soda is terrible for your health – but it’s our right to choose, isn’t it? What’s next – a complete fast-food ban?

However, while I still think there’s a lot of merit in that point of view…further reflection has led me to think that maybe it’s not the horrible idea I initially thought it was. The arguments against this ban are pretty clear; detractors claim it infringes on our personal liberty. But what about the benefits it has to offer?

The cost of obesity

Obesity may seem like an individual problem, and certainly, in many ways, it is. No one can force you to be overweight, just as no one can force you to be healthy. But eventually, we all pay the cost; consider the rising cost of health insurance premiums.

The importance of portion size

What’s more – and this is important – this has the potential to start the kind of change that lasts. Scientists have long known that people rely on visual cues to figure out when they’re full – not feelings of satiety. To test this, they fed soup to a group of participants, half of whom were given (unbeknownst to them) self-refilling bowls. Regardless of BMI, the refill group ate, on average, 73% more than the control group. Clearly, controlling portion sizes is a big deal.

A question of freedom?

It’s important to point out that it’s not like you wouldn’t be able to go down to the corner store and buy a 2-liter of Coke (or Pepsi, if that’s your thing). The ban would only affect restaurants and movie theaters. No one is taking away your ability to drink yourself to diabetes if you want to.

I’m still on the fence about this issue, but as blogger Starre Vartan points out in her piece on the topic: “When it comes to a national health crisis, this minor change in serving sizes doesn't look like a question of freedom to me, it looks like a small step to get Americans to rethink what a serving of soda looks like.”

What say you, FitChatters? Would you support such a ban, or do you feel that it impedes your freedom?

Sources: 1 | 2

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  • So are they also not going to be offering refills? It seems futile if they are just forcing you to walk up to the refill station more often. Those 2 calories burned getting up, walking to it and sitting down probably won't make that much difference. This irritates me, mostly because I am a pop drinker, through and through. I think each individual should make his/her own decision on how much to drink. It seems like a government imposed restriction is a bit over the line.

    And comparing it to smoking is not a good comparison. I'm not hurting anyone with my fat. They are not getting fatter from my drinking pop. Well, this is where I stand on the subject.

  • I think it's a brilliant idea. Assuming that they allow refills what would the problem be?? Because if you REALLY want to can go up and get another serving, but if you are being subconsciously controlled by your portion size this law will affect your health. As americans people are taught to finish what's on their plate (or in their cup). I think it's smart, especially because when I get a medium at a fast food joint its like a flipping keg of coke!

  • So then get the small. I think that is the 16 oz size. Or is that not enough for you?

  • ya see the problem is that it comes with the super tiny fry....mmm....friess...

  • I'm not sure where I stand on this.

    I do think it could help people and I disagree that it's a complete waste if they allow refills. Like Dayton mentioned, the container does have a subconscious effect. ( I actually wrote a blog about this a long while back: Some people may decide they didn't have enough and will go and get more, but I'll bet many others will be satisfied with that amount - or at least satiated enough they won't feel like getting another refill. I know that I'll tend to keep eating - even if I'm full - if there is more food in front of me yet. I COULD exercise more self-control, but also, I don't. I personally feel if calorie and fat content was listed next to each item on a restaurant's menu, many people would choose differently, portion sizes would change as a result and our country would be a bit healthier.

    On the other hand, I'm against the government taking away the right adults have to decide to do something despite knowing health risks it poses them. Especially when those choices pose no threat to anyone else.

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