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December 17, 2012 at 8:00 AMComments: 1 Faves: 0

The New York City Soda Ban and Obesity: A Soda Junkie's Perspective

By Anne Christen More Blogs by This Author

Okay, I know I’m a little late on this one, but I was drinking a Cherry Coke last week while I watched the 12-12-12 concert and I began thinking about the recent ban on large sodas in New York City. On July 9, opponents of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s soda ban held a rally organized by several City Council members and the NYC Liberty group. The health conscious mayor has signed legislation to stop the sales of soda and other high caloric drinks in containers of more than 16 ounces. Although the move is touted to be for the greater good, it's expected to cause financial damage at delis, fast-food franchises, sports arenas, and sidewalk carts. Moreover, if the establishments do sell large-sized sodas, they will be fined $200 for each sale.

Guilty as Charged

Before I go any further, I need to say that I drink soda on a daily basis. It’s awful, I know, full of empty calories and sugar. I have vowed to quit at least a dozen times, but I always go back. The all-in-one punch of caffeine, sugar, and carbonation is just what I need to start my day. So I usually have one can in the morning and another around lunch. The only good news is that I drink plenty of water every day, too, so maybe it counteracts some of the negative impacts of that soda.

Still, I can’t help but wonder if a soda ban is the answer to America’s obesity crisis. As it turns out, many people are thinking the same thing, and the general consensus is that cutting back on soda is not a solution in and of itself. The New York City Beverage Association, for instance, is far from happy with Mayor Bloomberg for attempting to limit the size of sweetened drinks. The organization said, “As obesity continues to rise, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that calories from sugar-sweetened beverages are a small and declining part of the American diet.”

Will It Work?

On the other hand, the proposal does raise awareness about the problem of large food portions, thus supporting a culture that consumes less. To illustrate, since the Coca-Cola Co. began selling its products, bottles often consumed as a single serving have increased in size from 6.5 ounces to 20 ounces. With this in mind, experts generally agree a cultural shift to more modest, reasonable, and appropriate portion sizes is necessary.

Others believe the proposed ban might be a largely symbolic move with no real effect on waistlines. After all, people could still consume large amounts of high-calorie beverages by buying them from places where they are not banned. The ban would not affect grocery stores or vending machines, and it would not apply to such beverages as fruit juices that contain more than 70 percent juice and lattes and milkshakes that contain more than 51 percent milk.

Taken as part of the whole, therefore, experts agree the general lack of physical activity in American culture, combined with high amounts of snacking, play important roles in the obesity epidemic. The soda ban would not negate this condition, and some studies have even shown the outright bans of soda and junk food in schools did not significantly reduce the weight of students.

What actions, then, might help people win the battle of the bulge? Most experts agree portion control is a must, and cutting sodas is a great place to start. Moreover, by eliminating the “bargain-sized” beverages that sodas claim to be, the ban would do away with the financial motivation people may have for buying them.

Wait and See

Speaking from a personal point of view, a soda ban in my hometown would certainly prompt me to reconsider what I do and do not drink. Just the act of making soda less accessible would mean I need to find an alternative or look harder for that which I crave. I do agree, however, that the ban is not a perfect solution. So many diet options – just look at the menu at McDonald’s – take us down completely unhealthy paths, making it difficult to pinpoint soda as the greatest culprit. Time will tell, though, if the ban is useful or simply controversial.

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1 Comment

  • I know that I have weighed in (no pun intended) on this subject before. But since this is a new blog, I figure I will do it again, especially since I have changed a great deal. I will be honest, I have consumed way too much pop (soda to those of you not from my region, but I will be referring to it as pop). I have been known to drink it morning, noon and night. I am also part of the obesity problem. I recently received some information regarding a part of my life that makes me want to quit the pop. So, I have slowed down my habit severely. Now, I have tried cold turkey in the past. It does not work. I know for a fact that the headaches alone are enough to make you run back screaming. The bulk of the headaches come from a lack of caffeine, so I have started drinking black coffee (ick!). But, knowing that I want to get off the pop kick, I am learning to like coffee in its unadulterated form. It gives me the needed caffeine (and then some) so that those headaches go away. But the body still craves the overabundance of sugar I was taking in every day. So, to quell that storm, I still enjoy a can of pop with my dinner. It may not sound like much, but so far the pangs of need for sugar have been staved off. I hope to soon get that out of my diet, and move on to only having one or two pops a week, but for now I'm happy with my progress.

    With that being said, and all of my heartache giving up the treat I love most, I totally disagree with this nonsense coming out of New York. People should not be forced to live healthy. There cannot be that many people out there who are saying, "I have no idea why I'm fat! I only consume 1500 calories of food a day! What? There are calories in sugary pop? I'm confused!" It's not like the mayor has opened their eyes to this now. They cannot be that foolish. And, if they don't understand that the pop is making them fat, then this law really confuses them. However, for the real world, the world that completely understands why they are fat and choose to do nothing about it, who cares? Let them kill themselves with massive coronaries and diabetes. We cannot force people to eat healthy. If someone wants to subsist primarily on Snickers (I would have used Twinkies, but at the moment of this post they are non-existent), that is his/her business. If they don't care about the ramifications of their actions and the pain that it will cause their loved ones, that is up to them.

    So, when I want to enjoy my fix for the day, it should be up to me how much I take in. It should not be banned. I know now how to control my intake, so when I choose to drink pop, I should have the right to drink the amount I choose.

    This is a band-aid solution at best.

    Rant over.

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