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Should the Government Control What You Drink?

So, it happened.

Just about a month ago, the New York City Board of Health passed a rule banning the sale of large-size sodas and other sugary drinks.

They are currently banned for sale from all restaurants, concession stands, fast food places, movie theaters, and cafeterias. All sugary beverages (soda, sweetened tea, etc.) sold in these establishments are now limited to a size of 16 ounces or smaller.

The intention is to strike at a major cause of obesity by limiting access to these calorie-laden drinks.

Is this the wave of the future? Is it a pioneering move towards making us all healthier? Or is it Big Brother taking choices out of our hands?

As with everything, there are two sides to this story…

Pros:

The ban, sponsored by Mayor Bloomberg, is widely supported by medical and nutritional experts in order to help protect public health.

Banning the sale of sugary beverages over 16 ounces would make it more difficult for people to over consume their calories in liquid form. As many people do not take into account the amount of empty calories in these drinks.

The hope is that limiting the available size of these beverages could cut thousands of calories each year for the average consumer.

“You don’t feel as full when you consume calories in liquids. … These beverages are the single greatest source of added sugar in the American diet.”
-Kelly Brownell,
 director of the Rudd Center for food policy and obesity at Yale University

Cons:

There are also a number of people (most in the food and beverage industry) who are vehemently opposed to this ban.

Many of them simply think that a ban such as this one is an example of the government reaching too far into people’s lives, and that our food options/choices should ultimately be up to us.

The other major argument against the soda ban is that soda is only one part of our growing obesity issue, and that it doesn’t make sense to single it out.

“Added sugars, including sugar-sweetened beverages, are no more likely to cause weight gain than other sources of calories… It’s not reasonable to blame or cite one product.”
-
Joy Dubost, director of health for the National Restaurant Association, a Washington-based industry group

Conclusions?

Ultimately, I’m not sure how I feel about this ban, and I think that there are some valid arguments on both sides. Perhaps the best thing to come out of it is that it has gotten a lot of people talking about health and debating what we can do in this country to start fighting obesity.

What do you think?

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