Last week New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed one of his increasingly common ideas for bans in the form of restricting the size of the sodas, energy drinks, and presweetened teas that can be sold in restaurants, movie theaters and sports arenas to no larger than 16 fluid ounces. Now the mayor has good intentions. He wants the city to be healthier, and it is common knowledge that soda is a leading cause of empty calories that lead to obesity. Diet sodas, dairy-based drinks (milkshakes!), fruit juice drinks and alcoholic beverages would be exempt, and convenience stores could still sell their version of Big Gulps.
Even I—a self-confessed soda fiend—must admit that the idea of purchasing an actual small soda at the movie theater rather than something that resembles a popcorn bucket is very appealing. I absolutely am addicted to soda and though I’ve made various attempts to quit drinking it over the years, none has been overwhelmingly successful. Despite my understanding of where the mayor is coming from I don’t think this is the best solution in the long term.
As evidenced by my many attempts to quit drinking soda, the mayor and the city have already found a solution that works and it isn’t based on banning anything. When you are in an NYC subway and you come face to face with this, it’s tough to not think about what you are consuming when you drink a soda. These posters started showing up a few years ago and I must say, they’ve definitely made an impact on me. I think they are representative of what should be happening in the fight against obesity; education, not regulation. The same concept has worked well in the posting of calories at fast food restaurants. Customers are educated about the calories and then hopefully make a better choice. But forcing them to make a certain choice doesn’t seem to me to make the lesson stick as well. It’s unclear whether Bloomberg’s new crusade will actually come to fruition; even health crusader Michelle Obama was hesitant to endorse it, but I hope common sense will prevail and the city will realize they should just double its education efforts rather than another ultimately ineffective ban.
Couldn't resist adding this too. Jerry Seinfeld has a different approach to the soda ban here.