(Pan across empty room. In walks Becky proudly carrying a soap box. She places it delicately at the front of the room, adjusts her pants because they seem a little short, and boldly steps up. Crowd holds on because she may be up there for a while)
By now most of you have heard about Mayor Bloomberg's proposal regarding the selling of soda in New York City - no more than a 16oz serving at a time in restuarants (or something of that nature). I have huge issue with this, so please excuse me while I impart my almost well thought out opinion on you.
I myself am a lover of soda. It's the bubbles. Gotta love the bubbles. I choose to drink diet soda. Yes, I am sure something in it will give me cancer one day, but I am trying to live in the present. There was a time when I drank regular soda - mainly through college. At that time, however, I was playing competitive basketball 6.5 days a week, so the calories didn't matter as much. Because of this love, I fully understand how easy it is to consume a large amount of calories simply by mindlessly drinking regular soda. I also agree that this is a HUGE issue with the growing number of obese Americans, especially children. Simply limiting the # of ounces a patron can have at one time, however, is NOT how we should go about addressing obesity.
First, my silly critiques on the proposal
1. Uh...they can just keep getting refills and bothering the waitress when she should be bring me my food
2. What about those of us who drink diet soda? I want 96oz of it all at once. Thanks
3. 16oz really isn't very much. The standard "single serving size" plastic bottle is 20oz. Just saying
4. Like any little kid who is told that they can't walk on wet cement, they just want to walk on it more. Tell me no large sodas? I am going to drink more just to spite you
My more serious critiques
1. Why is the government trying to be a dictator? Hear me out before you rip me apart. I am a doctor; I see every day that obesity is a problem. You know who can't boss you into being healthy? The government. No 20oz soda at McDonald's? Guess what, they can still buy it at the store. Sure, tax it more, that is a whole seperate issue. Limiting how much a person can drink (in one cup) impinges on his or her own personal freedom to choose. Yes, I know this isn't the biggest "choice" a person makes in his life, but it is a choice made millions of times daily.
I know you may be saying, "Well they did it with smoking, how is this any different?" And I say, "You smoking around me affects my health; you drinking regular Coke around me doesn't interfere with my life or my health at all." Which is true. It doesn't. You want to drink 10,000 calories in soda a day? Those calories aren't oozing out onto me and getting me all obese and stuff. You, "Well, obesity is driving up costs of health care and this and that and this." Me, "So is smoking. And older people." You, "Well...any little thing to cut down calorie consumption by obese people will help." Me, "True, but this isn't how we do it." Read on
2. Where does it stop? I think this sort of limitation can be too much of a slippery slope. Unlike smoking (you either are smoking or your aren't), there is a huge variety of foods and serving sizes with a broad spectrum of calorie counts. What type of food goes on to be limited next? From now on, burger patties can be no more than 8oz. And you can only have one on a burger at a time. And you can only order 2 per person in your party total. And no sides. You can have either fries OR the burger. Not both. And whenever you order a salad, dressing has to be on the side. Actually, let a government official come put the dressing on for you (okay...exagerating a bit there, but you get my point) You may think this is silly, but I feel it is too easy to allow a limitation on one thing at a time that slowly leads to a ban on a lot of things.
And where does this leave us with alcoholic drinks? I know this ban just stipulates soda, but what about 20oz beers? And that 10oz margarita? Yes, it is smaller than 16oz, but it is way high on calories. Do we just start serving everything in 100 calorie packs? You, "So what do you propose Ms. Smarty Pants." Again, read on.
The key, my imaginary friends, is education. For years now, the government has said that nutritional information has to be easily available to consumers. Cool. Awesome. Love it. You know what is overwhelming? Looking at that HUGE table of numbers down the hallway on the way to the bathroom. They always put them in weird places. They are always hard to read. Heck, I am relatively smart and still find them a little too cumbersome. It all boils down to calories (yes, % of fat vs carbs vs protein matters too, but let's keep it simple here people).
And guess what, most people, be them smart or stupid, have little insight into how many calories are in their food. While it may make me feel awful about my choice to walk into a fast food joint, it helps me immensly to see that calorie count right up on the reader board right next to the item I am about to purchase. King County is Washington has done this for a couple of years. Panera Bread does this nationwide. That whole panini has 950 calories? I'll have half. And a cup of soup that has 100 calories.
To solve, or at least start to address, the issue of obesity, we have to get to the source. People consume too many calories and live too sedentary of lives. Solution - eat less, move more. Being forced to consume fewer calories WILL NOT WORK because no one is there to babysit your eating/drinking all the time. It is still a choice to consume too much. Knowing, however, that your breakfast sandwich has 600 calories in it gives you great information on how to eat the rest of the day. We have to educate people on the calories in food and then let them make the choice. EDUCATION IS KEY PEOPLE!!!!!!!! Dictating intake, is not
(Becky steps off soap box, adjusts length of pants again, and runs swiftly to Panera) :D