Yesterday (Thursday, September 12th), the New York City Board of Health approved Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal limiting the size of sugary drinks sold in many venues (restaurants, movie theaters, sports venues and street carts) to 16 ounces. The vote was an astounding eight to one. A few months ago, I had a few discussions with people about the proposal when I had heard about it.
Those opposed to this legislation argue that it is unconstitutional. It is taking the freedom of choice away from citizens and putting it in the hands of the government. In reality, that is a gross misstatement. If you really want more than 16 ounces of a sugary drink, then you are completely free to choose to purchase more; you just have to stop and think about it first.
The real issue, however, isn’t about the “right to choose.” The real issue is about the health of our nation and what we are doing about it. In my free download “Conquer Sugar Addiction,” I teach individuals about the damage that too much sugar can have on one’s health; obesity is just one of the many health issues it can contribute to. Bloomberg has stated that his ban is a way to fight obesity in New York City. He claims that health-related problems stemming from obesity is a $4 billion a year cost to the city. But let’s be honest: this isn’t just a problem in NYC; this is a problem of our nation.
If you disagree with this new legislation, here are a few things to consider:
- Nutrition Reality: The American Heart Association suggests that women get no more than 100 calories a day (6 teaspoons or 24 grams) from added sugar and men no more than 150 calories a day (9 teaspoons or 36 grams). Guess how much sugar a 16 ounce soda has: 176 calories or 11 teaspoons or 44 grams. No matter how you slice it. It’s a lot. And by good nutrition standards, it is too much.
- Education: Unfortunately, many individuals choosing the super-size approach to their sugary beverages don’t know that super-sizing on a regular basis is detrimental to their health. Yes, we need more educational programs to teach people that the foods they eat have a direct consequence to their health, but when and where are people going to get the education? It has to start somewhere. Although there isn’t a whole education campaign surrounding this legislation, you have to agree that it is raising awareness around the issue of sugar consumption and its impact on health. Anyone wanting two sodas instead of one will have to stop and think about their decision first. Isn’t the act of thinking a part of education?
- Health Costs: No one can deny that health care is screwed up, and if we are honest, we know it isn’t getting better any time soon. The solution to the health care problem, however, starts with each of us taking ownership of our health and living with a mind towards prevention. People don’t want to accept the fact that we are in this health care mess because people refuse to take responsibility for their own health. We are an over-consuming nation that uses health care as a means to fix us when we get sick. People have a crutch to live life in an unhealthy manor because they know the health care system will swoop in and take care of them, despite their choices. This legislation is empowering consumers to take responsibility for their actions. If they want to consume more than 16 ounces of sugary beverages, they can, but they have to pay for it.
This is a complicated issue, no doubt. But change has to start somewhere. What do you think about the newly approved ban on sugary drinks over 16 ounces?
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