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So much for good intentions. June 4, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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No doubt by now you’ve read or heard about Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s attempts to protect the residents of New York City from the evils of giant sodas by making them illegal. In an attempt to save soda-gulpers from themselves, the Mayor is attempting to make it illegal for restaurants and fast-food places to sell any soft drink bigger than 16 ounces. (Apparently, 64-ounce drinks are all the rage, especially at fast-food chains.)

The reasoning behind the Mayor’s well-intentioned campaign is obvious. Let’s take Coke as an example, as both its spokespeople and (shock surprise) McDonald’s were quick to protest that people should be able to decide how many calories’ worth of sugar or high-fructose corn syrup and chemicals they wanted to ingest on their own. The 2-liter bottle of Coca-Cola our friend Ben is holding right now describes one serving as 12 ounces, with 140 calories and 39 grams of sugar in the form of high-fructose corn syrup. Multiply those numbers by 5 1/3 to reach 64 ounces, and you have 746 calories and 208 grams of sugar in one drink. And that’s before you add those supersized burgers and fries. Our friend Ben would also like to point out that an entire 2-liter bottle of Coke only holds 67.6 ounces of liquid, just 3.6 more than that 64-ounce cup.

Now, mind you, if you order a soda in a restaurant or fast-food place, obviously most of the cup will be filled with ice. You won’t really be taking in all those calories and that coma-inducing load of high-fructose corn syrup unless you chill a liter of Coke (or fill in your favorite soda, God forbid that it’s Pepsi) and chug the whole thing straight. But it’s still a good point. However many calories you’re drinking, they’re empty calories, sugar-laden calories, calories you don’t need on top of everything else you consume, calories that would be better spent eating or drinking something that’s actually good for your health.

Having said this, our friend Ben can’t think of a single way in which a law like Mayor Bloomberg’s could possibly be legal. Unlike smoking and screeching into a cellphone in public spaces, drinking a giant soda hurts nobody but yourself. (Assuming you don’t dump the leftover ice on someone else’s head, or toss the cup into the street rather than into a trash can.)

Admittedly, perhaps our friend Ben is a little skewed in this, since I also fail to see how the government could possibly make it illegal to drive without wearing a seatbelt in one’s own private vehicle if one so chooses. I wish I had a fortune so I could take that one clear to the Supreme Court. If you take public transport like a plane, you should be bound by public transport’s regulations (and please note that neither public buses nor trains require seatbelts or even offer them); in your own car, you should be able to do what you damn well please. But I digress.

Those who choose to regularly indulge in gargantuan bacon cheeseburgers, titanic piles of French fries, bags of hi-cal, deep-fried doughnuts, and monstrous 64-ounce sodas should certainly rethink their lifestyles before obesity, heart disease and diabetes cut their lives short. But it’s not the government’s place to force them to do so. It’s the government’s place to educate them about the drawbacks of their diet and to point them to healthier lifestyle choices.

Mayor Bloomberg’s team did a great job of this: They created a poster showing how many sugar cubes would be needed to put the equivalent amount of high-fructose corn syrup in each size soft drink from a modest 8-ounce cup to the Frankensteinian 64-ounce version. If they’d only add calorie count, they could turn this stunning graphic into billboards across the city. Forget legislation: Seeing is believing. One look, especially in a body image-conscious city like New York, and those ginormous drinks would be a thing of the past.



1. Daphne - June 4, 2012

They have helmet laws for motorcycles in some states too. But you are hurting other people. Those heavily laden sugar drinks increase things like diabetes and heart disease. We all pay the price for higher priced health insurance.

So true, Daphne! Seems to me that the answer lies in higher insurance for those with awful habits that are known to promote disease—and reckless habits like roaring down the road on a motorcycle in a tank top and shorts—rather than raising the cost of health care for those who are making a sincere effort or legislating restrictions that those who are determined to violate their health will get around anyway. (“Yo! Twelve 16-ounce sodas, six Gigaburgers—loaded, please—and six Megafryze for here. And a table for one, please!”)

2. William - June 7, 2012

I have to say a law dictating what and how much you can drink is wrong in many ways, and the worst part of this law is it fails. Most everyone understands the law restricts your freedom. 16oz soft drinks or any high sugar content item do not increase health care or make people unhealthy. It is something called habits that is the source of the health problem. Drinking large soft drinks are not bad. It is the child whose family eats out because both parents work. Yes, this child drinks the soda and eats the fried items. It is done five, six and even seven days a week. Home cooked meals are unheard of in most modern families. Mom and dad work and are too tired when they come home.

People are happy to jump at some token and feel they’ve supported something worthwhile and ignore the fact that it is meaningless. Instead, we should make it our duty to work with our youth helping them to make good decisions concerning their health. You don’t even have to preach.

I work with my sons every day in order to build a healthy habit for the future. I work with Scouts and sneakily influence their food/drink habits as well as exercise. This like any form of education is what we do to improve our future. If Adolf Hitler understood success was through the youth, then we too should recognize this.
Laws such as the one proposed are worthless and impede any attempt to improve a negative situation.

3. las artes - June 11, 2012

High-fructose corn syrup, sometimes called corn sugar, has become a popular ingredient in sodas and fruit-flavored drinks. In fact, high-fructose corn syrup is the most common added sweetener in processed foods and beverages. Given how ubiquitous high-fructose corn syrup is, some people are concerned about possible adverse health effects.

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