New York fights obesity with soda limit

The rate of obesity in America has doubled since 1980. According to the Department of Health, health care to treat obesity-related illnesses and conditions cost the United States an estimated $150 billion and New York State more than $7.6 billion every year. HUNTER PARAMORE | Scroll Illustration

You can have fries with that but not a Coke?

On May 31, The Bloomberg Association proposed to limit the amount of soda people may purchasein New York City to no more than 16 fluid ounces, according to The New York Times. Although obesity is a serious problem in the United States, The New York City Board of Health seems to be taking it one step too far.

Health politicians are seeking to find a solution to obesity; however, their focus seems to have shifted in the opposite direction.

The “large-drink ban” would affect PepsiCo, Coco-Cola and most sodas and energy drinks sold at restaurants, sports arenas and other public venues.

However, it would not impact stores that sell diet sodas, dairy-based beverages or alcohol, according to www.investorplace.org. If the ban were to be approved, it would be implemented as soon as March 2013. Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City, said that he believes obesity to be a problem throughout the United Statest, according to Time magazine.

“…Public health officials are wringing their hands saying, ‘Oh, this is terrible,’” said Bloomberg in an interview with Time magazine. “New York City is not about wringing your hands; it’s about doing something.”

OK, but what happened to our right to choose? Even though health politicians are trying to help us health wise, our freedom should be equally as important. According to cbsnews.com, a recent poll of 500 residents of New York shows that 53 percent said they disagree with the proposal and said they didn’t think people would lose weight by not drinking a certain size of soda.

On the national level, one-third of Americans are obese and another third are overweight, according to npr.org, and in 2004 obesity was the number one cause of death, as stated by www.medicalnewstoday.com. And according to Becky Smith, incentive coordinator for the Wellness Center, out of the 800 students who have been seen by a physician, 27 percent are obese and 59 percent are overweight at BYU-Idaho.

While The New York City Board of Health met to discuss the ban on June 12, a board member recommended regulating the amount of popcorn people may buy at movie theaters, Huffington Post reported. These things aren’t going to help eliminate obesity. It may help people lose a little weight, but in the end, it’s not going to make a 100-pound difference.

In fact, Dr. Manny Alvarez, managing editor of health news at Fox News, said that banning popcorn is “silly” because people don’t go see a movie every day and because people can only get actual sizes, such as small, medium and large, at movie theaters.

It’s time for health politicians to step it up and start taking their jobs seriously. It’s time for them to focus on real solutions instead of fixating over things that don’t control obesity. If they did this, then just maybe we would get our agency back.

Dissenting Opinion: Soda limit is about awareness, not agency

New York Mayor Bloomberg’s new proposal to limit the amount of soda people can purchase is rattling some chains.
According to statistics by the Huffington Post, Americans drink 16.4 gallons more soda per year than water, which is a grand total of 44.7 gallons per person.
It’s no wonder why people would be upset.
The central issue of the proposal, some will say, is that our agency is at risk; our freedom to do what we want is being taken away by socialist values.
The problem with this mindset, though, is it’s misleading.
The point of the ban is not to limit peoples’ choices; rather it is to raise awareness and to help steer people in a healthier direction.
“Obesity is America’s most important public health problem, and the mayor has led the way against it. This latest idea may or may not yield results. But it is already raising awareness,” said David Frum, a CNN contributor.
While we agree that the right to drink a 44-ounce drink would limit the liberties of the people of New York, it won’t stop people from getting their fix of this addictive substance. Buying extra 16 ounce containers will always be available.
So, if all that this law achieves in its lifetime (whether that be short or long) is to make Americans honestly look at and consider the amount of soda they drink and the effect it has on their health, we say the proposed law is a huge success.

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