Every time I go to a movie theater or a fast-food store and order a soft drink (diet-only for me) I am shocked that the size of the “small” has increased to what was once considered excessively large. Portions have gotten so big, one might as well smuggle a 2-liter bottle of their fizzy liquid of choice into the establishment. That’s about the size of the Big Gulp-type cups these days.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s call for restaurants to limit the size of sugary soft drinks to a maximum 16 ounces struck the moderate portion of my politics when I heard about it this morning. Almost like a bona fide conservative, I thought “Wait just a damn minute!”
Do I think the government in the form of this mayor is overstepping its boundaries with this measure? Yes, I kind of do. It’s just probably not for the same reasons as my Republican compadres will be yelling about tomorrow.
Sometimes our leaders, regardless of their ideology, spend too much time and treasure trying to fix the wrong problems. It is easy enough to regulate the Coca-Cola and Pepsi portions served in public venues. In the interest of public safety we have seen laws passed to mandate seatbelts, helmets for cyclists of all levels, and smoke-free environments for diners and workers alike. Why not try to fix our nation’s epidemic of obesity with another law?
I have never run across a child who didn’t want to drink more sweetened juices and sodas than s/he should or than the parents would allow. My own son would have consumed Hawaiian Punch until it squirted out of his tear ducts I we had let him. He would drink his beverage first and become too full for the food he needed, but would rather not have eaten. Rules were put into place to save the sweet beverage until AFTER the meal. Sip water, if you must, while you are eating. Of course, his consumption was automatically controlled that way – at least when we could see him.
Our country’s struggle with obesity is complex and perplexing, but I just cannot see how limiting the serving sizes of soft drinks is going to change anything. Yes, the retailers create the illusion that buying large sizes is cheaper by the ounce, so why not buy the larger cup and save money? Smoke and mirrors for sure, but that’s how the cinemas and fast-food joints stay in business.
There is nothing to stop consumers from simply buying two 16 oz. drinks or four or however many they please. Some of us cheapskates would probably think twice about that, but young people who have the money in their pockets or who have super-indulgent parents might decide to spend their popcorn money on soda instead.
Sugar is the enemy of public health, I am convinced of that. Should the government ban the production of granulated sugar next? I sure don’t thin k so. Americans need to stop blaming their every trouble on some evil outside element and start taking responsibility for their own “private health.”
Children must be trained to make good food and beverage choices, just as they are trained to do everything else they do. Most of us don’t cave to the pressure of indulgence when our toddlers stick their fingers in outlets or put their hands on the oven door. We teach them that to do that will cause them pain.
Of course, it will do no good for Mom and Dad to require moderation of their children if they themselves order super-sized portions of everything.
Mayor Bloomberg says everybody is screaming about this problem, but no one is doing anything about it, so he did this. The one thing it has done is have every media outlet in the nation talking about it. But will it make any difference in the collective poundage of the American population? I seriously doubt it.