I have been known to drink a Diet Coke or two. And I have been known to grab a 32-ounce Polar Pop at the local Circle K now and then.
Well, folks, it’s a good thing I’m a Diet Coke drinker, because if I lived in New York City, come next March, I’d be breaking the law if I purchased that Polar Pop as a straight up Coke.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a ban on the sale of large sodas at restaurants, theaters, fast-food eateries and other public places like sports arenas. Anything bigger than 16 fluid ounces is verboten, effective next March.
Diet sodas, however, are not covered by his edict. Go figure.
Count me in as one of the many who think Bloomberg’s decision to limit the container size of sodas is totally asinine.
And I say “many” because a new Reuters/Ipsos poll found 64 percent of Americans oppose the ban.
Bloomberg created the ban to combat growing obesity levels. The city’s health commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley, who’s onboard with the idea, blames sweetened drinks for up to half of the increase in city obesity rates over the last 30 years, according to the New York Times.
I see. So, I guess basically we can’t be trusted to make our own food and beverage decisions. We are weak and someone else is much wiser.
I am not suggesting Americans couldn’t stand to lose a few (or many) pounds. There has also been a nonstop trend in supersizing everything in food and drink servings everywhere. And I’m not suggesting there’s not a link between diet and health. There most certainly is. But to call out the cola Gestapo is barking up the wrong tree.
What about putting dollars and energy and initiative into health and nutrition education first? What if we beef up physical education in our schools? Or encouraging health care professionals at all levels to recommend patients cut back on sugary beverages? Or figuring out a way to emphasize personal responsibility, not government intervention?
I think it was when my two children started high school that my husband and I found ourselves repeating to them: “Make good choices. Make wise decisions.” Over and over. We still do, and they’re now young adults.
We are not helicopter parents hovering over their every move. They’ve had to fall and fail, and learn.
We are, and should be, free to make our own — good and bad — choices.
And I think that’s what irks me more than anything about this move. It’s not about health. It’s about someone telling me how much I can or can’t drink, or eat, of a legal product. This is the role of government our forefathers envisioned?
I recognize the cost to society of our obesity, and that so many of our health conditions could be prevented or moderated with simple diet changes. But the mortality rate in the United States has dropped 60 percent in the 75 years from 1935 to 2010. And I’m guessing we did most of that without being told what to eat or drink.
The Nanny Soda State might fly in the Big Apple, but I’d like to see someone try to limit sweet tea south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
The South would rise again. The rest of us are already up in arms.
By Susan Crowell