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Legislating Sugar

Feel free to buy a case of beer, a jug of wine, or any size bottle of alcohol. Just watch out for that 24 ounce soda!

The heat has arrived and with that comes thirst. Next time you want to quench your thirst, think about the choices you have and ask yourself a question. Are you able to decide for yourself what you should or should not be able to purchase? In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg would like to ban sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces. He considers it a step towards fighting the rising obesity problem.

While I think his heart is in the right place, I have some problems with his ban. First, who is he to tell me or anyone else what I’m allowed to drink or how large a serving? I have a feeling that it will still be possible to buy a large alcoholic beverage despite alcoholism, drunk driving, and underage drinking still being problems. I’m also sure that it will be possible to go into a pharmacy and get a prescription filled for various pain killers despite the climbing addiction rate and overdoses.

Please, don’t take that to mean I hope to ban alcohol or prescription drugs. I’m not, but I wonder when we stop expecting the government to make decisions for us. Are we coming down to where the government legislates all of our lifestyle choices for us? Do we live in a police state?

Yesterday I picked up my nieces for a little quality auntie time. It was a hot day and we decided to go for ice cream.  I admit that the portions, even kid sizes, were a bit large, but I’m glad it wasn’t illegal for me to order a double scoop on a hot day. And honestly, if I wanted to go order a double scoop every single day or five times a day, why does any politician think that he has the right to restrict that?

I’m not a soda drinker. I don’t buy it for my kids often, and I never drink it. I can guarantee you that any weight problem I struggle with is not because of a 24 ounce soda or any sugary drink.

We have a billion dollar diet industry and yet the obesity rate is climbing. Could it be that we aren’t looking at the real reasons people are overweight? Has anyone looked at the amount of sugar in a glass of apple juice lately? Still think soda is the culprit?

We’ve become a society that looks to blame somebody for our ills. Overweight? It must be because the fast food restaurant does not have obnoxious signs posted all over telling you that the giant meal you’re ordering is a week’s worth of calories. Does anyone really go to a fast food restaurant and think they are eating healthy? Does it make much difference if you order the kids meal with apple juice instead of soda? And again, check that apple juice label.

Isn’t it time we start taking responsibility for our own choices? I’ve struggled with my weight for my entire life. I’ve been fat and I’ve been skinny. Skinny is healthier and more fun, but I’m an emotional eater. I eat when I’m stressed. I eat when I’m upset. And when I eat for comfort, I don’t reach for an apple or a banana. Is that the fault of a soda manufacturer or fast food chain?

What is Mayor Bloomberg proposing when someone missing their 24 ounce decides to buy two 16 ounces? What will he propose when the stores trying to make up lost profits market the smaller sizes as a 2 for 3 or buy one get one half off?

Really when is Mayor Bloomberg going to realize that sometimes we are our own worst enemy and there is no law that will ever change that. If he thinks someone struggling with a weight issue will cut down soda consumption because of his law, he’s got another thing coming. Obesity is rising and there are health risks that get passed on to the tax payers at some point. But just as Prohibition didn’t cut down alcohol use or crime, banning drink sizes isn’t the answer either, and it just isn’t the government’s place to tell anyone what they are allowed or not allowed to drink.

 Think about it and think about the next time you go for ice cream or a dozen donuts or any other snack item that isn’t healthy. Where does it end? We cross the border from Nassau into Queens and suddenly 24 ounce drinks are banished? I just imagine a genie appearing and poof the obesity problem disappears. The bottom line is freedom of choices. Do we have it or not? The government has bigger problems right now than worrying about how much soda is consumed. At least I think there are bigger problems.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Kristen Ferrari June 07, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Hi Madeleine, Thanks for your comment. Meal sizes have definitely gotten larger, but again, doesn't it come down to the choice of the person ordering? Nobody is being forced to order at a drive-thru or to say, "yes, I'll super size that." We could all benefit from a lot of things but is it up to the government to legislate what would be healthy and again, where does it end? Apple juice is just as sugary, but will that get banned?
Ed June 07, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Would you be in favor of the government requiring everyone to exercise more, or play sports? How about limiting how much a person is allowed to eat? Maybe the government should tell everyone how much they should weigh and give them a certain amount of time to achieve it. If they don't achieve the goal, give them a big fine. Just how much of your personal liberties are you willing to surrender to the government? Enough is enough!
Madeleine Berg June 08, 2012 at 01:16 AM
I agree everyone is in charge of their own choices. But the government is already involved in influencing the food we eat. Government farm policy is responsible for cheap corn which led to the discovery that corn can be used as a cheap sweetener. Hence, the ubiquitous high fructose corn syrup that is now taking the fall for the obesity epidemic in this country. Of course legislating soda consumption is absurd but there is no denying the government helped get us into the state we are in.
Gary Brook Jennis June 13, 2012 at 07:40 AM
Kristen, From a civics point of view you are 100% correct. This Idea would be a severe encroachment on our civil rights. The problem with Bloomberg is that being a businessman first and a civil servant second he approaches fixing problems from a businessman's point of view. That leaves a gap in his thinking with regard to the ramifcations and affect his "solutions" will have on his constituants. Refer back to his plan to establish tolls on the East River bridges to relieve traffic in Manhattan -- withiout regard to the economic hardships it would create for the people of NY. Gary Brook Jennis
Kristen Ferrari June 13, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Hi Gary, Mayor Bloomberg and supporters keep saying people will thank him ten years from now. I don't think he has an understanding of weight issues if he thinks the obesity rate is rising because of larger sodas. And again, it is a matter of our freedom of choices. I'm curious to see what the soda companies will do. How much money will it cost the tax payers when Coca Cola and Pepsi sue the city for discrimination. Its going to happen.

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