According to the Associated Press, New York City plans to ban the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks in an effort to combat obesity. “The proposed first-in-the-nation ban would impose a 16-ounce limit on the size of sweetened drinks sold at restaurants, movie theaters, sports venues and street carts. It would apply to bottled drinks as well as fountain sodas.” Basically, this move would outlaw Super Big Gulps and so forth, as a method to control the intake of high fructose corn syrup and its associated obesity risk.
This sounds logical on the face of it, but let’s look a little closer.
What are the risk behaviors that contribute to obesity? Primarily, they are inactivity and consumption of high calorie, low nutrient foods. It is not the sale of super sized soft drinks that make people fat. It is the consumption of these nutritionally barren drinks that is the problem!
Sure, New York City can outlaw the oversized drinks. That won’t stop anyone from buying two smaller drinks to compensate. Such a law certainly won’t stop anyone from drinking soda. All this proposal will do is add another intrusion of government into people’s daily lives. I have written this before and will do so again: a company can not be faulted for selling products or services which the public clearly wants to buy. That’s free enterprise, folks.
The key to combating the American obesity epidemic is twofold: education and encouragement. An open and frank public discussion of the American obesity epidemic and its ramifications is desperately needed! A corollary to this is increase outreach and education on both the dangers of obesity and the alternative behaviors which can mitigate them. That is where we need to focus our attention and our energy.