Yes that’s what many have taken to calling the New York mayor once again waging war on food products and by extension the person freedoms Americans enjoy. This time his proposed ban, on large sugary dinks over 16 oz.; no more big gulps, gust busters 51oz. drinks to be found in restaurants, movie theaters, stadiums. His rational, you can still have a 32 oz., drink they just have to give you 2 cups; odds are you’ll drink one and leave the other one, thus educating the public on how much they are consuming both in volume, calorie and sugar content. Honestly not surprising from the city official who was the first to outlaw smoking in public places, trans fats in fast food, the first to demand calorie counts be displayed in restaurants and the first to try and ban soda and sugary drinks from the food stamp program all in an effort to increase his cities public health, deal with it and the nation’s growing obesity problem. However even some doctors like ABC News’ medical editor Dr. Richard Besser say such a ban will have little effect because it provides no incentive for people to change their behavior. So the food wars begin a Cato institute, the leading institute for liberty in the nation home of thousands of economic studies, articles and video, spokesperson calling this the most ridiculous type of nanny-state-ism; plus unlike the drawn parallels between tobacco warning labels, seatbelt laws and the purported 5% drop in obesity rate when sugary drinks were taken out of the New York public schools, although it must be said, despite tobacco regulations, despite seatbelt laws we still have people young and old who smoke, people who are everything from ticketed yearly to thrown for their vehicles because they didn’t wear a seat belt, this time drink makers have a point. McDonald’s fiery Twitter response that said in part we trust consumers to make the choice best for them isn’t just an argument, isn’t just the convenient freedom argument; it’s the truth. And freedom is not just an argument trotted out by people, organizations, product makers who don’t want to change their ways, it’s the very foundation of our nation; neither is it opponents of this law’s only point.
Not only are they correct in identifying obesity not as the national, public health problem it has been touted as by everyone from the First Lady on down, but a private health problem effecting the individual; also, the ban proposed by Bloomberg only effects those drinks sold in restaurants, fast food chains, movie theaters, stadiums. Convenience and grocery stores’ offerings remain the same, ironically the home of the big gulp, the gust buster and 51oz. anything intended to be single serving, contrasting, for example, 2 liter bottles meant to be poured into a glass a serving at a time; fruit and milk based drinks remain exempt and unaffected along with diet soda, presumably because of their healthier nature. Likewise quickly pointed out is the 200 calories found in that 16 oz. soda size the mayor sanctions is similarly found in almost the same amount of orange juice, a doughnut, more in a margarita; one news person asking shrewdly, so where do you draw the line? A spokesperson from the national beverage association pointing out you can get as much beer at a stadium as you want but you’re going to limit me to a 16 oz. soda? Tone implying, and rightly so, that doesn’t make sense considering alcohol can and does leave you inebriated, lacking judgment, motor control, inhibitions when consumed in large quantities. Further when confronted by ABC news with the CDC finding it’s the hidden sugar in food, not drinks, leading to obesity mayor Bloomberg all but admitted this is cop out legislation not going after the real problem, as he said it was harder to regulate food. Another oddity present in the news cast, when illustrating just how much sugar is in what we regularly drink, they measured it in cubes; sugar for years has been measured in tablespoons, teaspoons, ounces, cups, the latter measurement usually exclusive to cooking, but they haven’t measured sugar in cubes for years likely dating back to the 1800’s, at least not in the U.S., meaning people aren’t going to understand the quantity as readily as the others listed, making the lesson a moot point. Going on, the most popular size drink sold in America is not the gust buster, the big gulp, 51oz. of thirst quenching goodness; it’s the 20oz. plastic bottle or the 12 oz. can containing different calorie and sugar dimensions than those listed in any news segment.
Outside the failings of the mayor’s proposal vs. what he really wants to accomplish, not taken into account is the fundamentals of how people actually consume giant drinks; to begin with, anything that comes to you premade, the restaurant, fast food place or stadium prepared the drink for you, comes with a large volume of ice too, unless you specifically request no ice, usually encompassing half the cup. Translation, you have now reduced that 16 oz. cup to 8 oz. of actual drink, a 32 to a 16, a 51 to something just over 25. Next said establishments don’t fill the cup all the way to the brim to avoid spilling and accommodate froth; combine the two and people are drinking less than our health conscious mayor seems to think. The ice in a cup, not filled to running over phenomenon is not limited to premade drinks; people may want lots of ice to keep the drink cold, for a long trip and buying a large size permits them to have a decent sized drink and the temperature they like. Most aren’t going to stand at the concession counter an extra 5-10 minutes waiting for the froth to subside to fill their cup to the absolute top so they never get the maximum ounces the cup advertises to provide. Additionally people consuming large drinks may well be getting the 600 calories of that gust buster on a long road trip where they aren’t eating much, they may be in a car with no air conditioning in the hot summer trying to replace fluids, wandering around a mall, either outdoor or indoors where it is too warm for that particular individual and they sweat, people using a fast food place or convenience store’s giant drinks may have been outdoors for an extended period of time or are planning to be attempting to stay hydrated. While water is ideal for this, soda does give better taste. Something else not accounted for duration of drink; people may drink the huge size over the whole day, it may be the only sugary drink they consume in 24 hours, they may only consume one drink of that kind, sugary, a week or a month, despite a number of health experts who say cutting out the 16 oz. sanctioned sugary drink daily can mean losing 20lbs a year. Experts assume wrongly that every soda drinker drinks it daily, that every soda drinker consumes giant sizes daily, tones implying that people consume 3-4 of these big gulps, gust busters, 51oz. mega drinks daily; facts that are just not true, not there. Our activist mayor asserts if people are given two 16oz. cups they will drink one and not the other; not addressed is what about restaurants, buffet style in particular, where you buy a drink letting you drink as much as you want? Many fast food places allow refills, especially on larger sizes, same with movie theaters; often times people get a refill because they can and because they paid so much money for the original. We all know the price horror of movie theater snacks. And, even with attempts by others to outlaw the buffet restaurant, if city, state, national officials tried to outlaw the refill, limit the refill; A- how is that not interfering with a business’s right to organize itself as it sees fit, B- how could they ever enforce it. Currently places that permit customers to fill their own drink cups, clearly posting signs that say no refill still have people who do so
Of course many think the “nanny mayor,” “soda Scrooge,” is on to something Nightline caught up to a doctor who not only believes it’s passed about time to target sugar saying there is no daily requirement of the human body for fructose or high fructose corn syrup, keeping in mind this is the same doctor who wanted our nation to card kids to buy soda in a place we still can’t effectively card underage persons for alcohol, who takes issue with juices to the point of having a problem with people who bought and then squeezed their own orange juice. His latest interview compares sugar to nutritional equivalent of opium dens, not only targeting fructose in juice drinks too but even goes after the emerging problem he sees with how much whole fruit people consume. Call him a kook or not, he is on to something important, the true target we should be going after, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, and going back to the CDC finding about hidden sugar in food, dealing with the hidden fructose in products. The controversial doctor demonstrated by going to a local supermarket looking at all 32 available brands of bread finding 31 of them contained high fructose corn syrup. We are for the most part aware of its presence in soda, juice boxes, fast food, candy, sugary fruit snacks, its possibility in sugary cereals, junk food, cookies, high calorie desserts, but not in staples like bread, bought in the supermarket not made specially in a restaurant for a specialty sandwich or signature entrée, no less. Obviously basic loaves of bread should not contain high fructose corn syrup. Nightlight even conceded it wasn’t necessarily the size of the drink or the calorie count, being aimed at by the ban, but the amount of sugar they contain; surprisingly the soda carding doctor stated something else worthwhile lost in his outlandish, unrealistic views, that the nations obesity rates began to rise when fructose and high fructose corn syrup started being used to sweeten things, became so cheap and readily available for use in every conceivable food product, roughly around 30 years ago. This is the battle Mayor Bloomberg should be fighting, to stop the use of an artificial, manmade type of sugar permeating all our foods, because that’s exactly what it is; fructose is a chemically engineered type of sugar that even goes beyond the processing to create white sugar vs. the more natural brown. Who knows what would happen if we used natural, basic sugar in drinks, foods even the now blasted white sugar instead of a chemically generated version. Could we help solve the so called obesity epidemic that way? The doctor’s assertion oddly enough coincides with older people’s comments regarding the existence of soda, the existence of sweets, the existence of common foods and the lack of obesity in the 1970’s for instance, something to ponder.
He, the headline grabbing New York mayor, would find more support in said initiative too, first because it really is geared toward the public health, putting natural things back in food, alerting people to the hidden things in common foods, taking out fructose and high fructose corn syrup from unexpected products. Secondly because it falls in line with food additive, pesticide, preservative bans seen here and in Europe, matching proposed bans on BPA in baby bottles, proposed bans already in effect overseas on some food dyes linked to behavioral problems in children vs. behavior regulation bans trying to tell people what they are suddenly not allowed to buy. Framing it as the latter only insights rebellion and defiance; people will take 2 cups while gawking at the counter person in the movie theater offended and less likely to ever return. People will be more inclined to go to buffet style restaurants, those restaurants that provide unlimited refills, unfortunately exposed to that many more calories via the myriad of choices, higher calorie foods on the menu, or there will be an influx of people frequenting convenience stores for the larger sizes they are allowed to offer, especially when people feel their freedom, their right to choose is being threatened. McDonald’s and others putting forth the same challenge to this proposed law are correct; no, it may not be healthy to consume so many calories but it is a person’s right and it’s not up to any government, city, state, national, to regulate something as silly as drink cup size. Mayor Bloomberg needs to either step up, take on the real fight of artificial things in food making his city, his nation fat, or he needs to go home.