Soda ban is short-sighted
Published: Thursday, June 21, 2012
Updated: Friday, June 22, 2012 00:06
It’s like a scene from a comic: New York’s very own not-so-caped crusader Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has now set his eyes on the evildoer, soda.
He’s already beaten smoking and hydrogenated vegetable oil, and now he faces the soda tax. The new plan of attack is to ban the sale of sugary drinks 16 ounces or more in public areas, with a consequent fine for violation of said ban.
A push for a slimmer New York City is noble in its efforts, but naïve in its expectations. A soda ban promises a lot, but the results are more likely to be disappointing when considering the logistics of banning such a specific portion of the beverage. There is also the matter of choice and time better spent that needs to be considered when proposing such seemingly drastic and time-consuming measures.
Let’s talk dietary facts: a 16 ounce soda will cost a diet about 180 calories of the recommended 2,000. There is no fat, it’s all sugar and chemicals that many would not even attempt to pronounce, but soda isn’t the only thing with a complicated ingredients list. It is not the worst offender out there, so it is safe to say that the ban is only a taste of things to come. The ban lacks efficiency, as the offering of refills and twelve packs could easily circumvent it. This observation couldn’t have escaped Bloomberg’s grasp, it seems that this is just an arbitrary solution with no real foresight.
Bloomberg is pushing his ban with help from experts who cite sodas as the leading cause of rampant obesity in the United States. This is an oversimplification of the epidemic, and the solution proposed would not deal with the actual issues that create overweight people. Bloomberg’s best defense of this law is that it can’t do any more damage that soda has already caused, and it’s a start in improving society’s eating habits.
The mayor even has a task force dedicated to combat obesity. According to this task force, six in ten residents and 40 percent of children in New York City are obese. The task force has set up goals to lower the number of obese adults by 10 percent, and obese children by 15 percent in the next five years. And the kryptonite, according to Bloomberg and his minions, is soda.
While statistics suggesting that obesity is worsening at rapid rates are true, they do not point to banning soda as a solution to the epidemic. If anything, the ban is a good way to antagonize the restaurant business, rather than work with them to create a real difference.
Banning 16-ounce sodas is not a solution, but a band-aid. Soda is one of many villains that belong to the unhealthy foods coalition. There are other sugary instigators chock-full of calories out there that could fill the void if the soda ban passes.
Instead of focusing time and effort on these band-aids, the mayor’s obesity task force should focus on a real start, not fliers, random statistics, and a youth-infuriating soda ban. The solution should be education; teach better choices rather than instill fear. Banning sugary beverages seems to be more of a test than a move to fight the “war on obesity.”
If the soda ban were to succeed, it would serve as a signal to Bloom-nanny that New Yorkers are willing to give up their choice of consumption in fear of the obesity epidemic. Fear tactics over education is not the answer.