Lighten Up People, Banning Big-Ass Sodas Doesn’t Make Us Communists

Wow, so yesterday I wrote about New York City’s mayor wanting to ban large sodas–something that I’m all for. But apparently, not all of you are with me on that. Many of you commented that implementing such a ban would be un-American, unconstitutional and downright wrong. One of you even called me a nazi. To which I have to say: Lighten up! Since when is trying to make our nation healthier a bad thing?

Jaye wrote:

First off, the article sounds like it was written by a damn nazi, like the end justifies the means type of thing.

Banning things will NEVER solve a problem. Remember prohibition? People are going to eat and drink what they want and we truly have NO RIGHT to stop them. Help them, counsel them, motivate them to do better for the right reasons (AKA not the almighty dollar) and maybe you’ll get somewhere.

This article smacks of ‘it’s okay to take away freedoms because it’s for their own good. No. You are wrong. Taking away freedoms is not what made this country, and it will not be what saves our country.

Mylinda added:

I don’t drink SUPER SIZE anything – but letting the government tell me I CAN’T?? That’s just not right

And then Leigh added:

This is STUPID! Go all the way then! Put a limit on alcohol sales! How much is that costing, because of all the bad health, and accidents associated with it?? Put a limit on tobacco! Put a limit on anything and everything that is bad for you! The mayor and the person that wrote this article can both kiss my big fat a**!!!!

No, I don’t want to kiss your big fat ass, I just don’t want to pay for anyone’s fat ass. That may sound harsh, but it’s the reality, folks. Our health care costs are out of control, and we (you and I) are the ones who are picking up the tab. And you know why? Because too many Americans don’t give a shit about their health. That’s just the truth.

You can state that America is a free country, and we should all have free will when it comes to what we put in our mouths. And I agree with that. Until people prove that they can’t do so responsibly without affecting others–then we need to take away some of that free will. Living in a free country does not entitle us to necessarily do whatever we want. It simply entitles us to choose those who we want to run our government, like Bloomberg. If you like his approach, vote for him or others with similar values next time. If not, don’t. But when he’s in office (because some of you put him there), he has a responsibility to act in the best interest of the people, and that’s what he’s doing, like it or not.

We’ve been educating people on how to eat healthy for what seems like forever, and for whatever reason, the majority of Americans are not listening. So maybe it’s time for the government to step in.

I’m all for people doing whatever they want, as long as it doesn’t impact me or innocent others. Like, I don’t really care if people want to smoke. Just don’t do it around me. Save it for your own home or your own car and don’t expose others to your poisons (like children). And don’t expect the health care system to pay for all of your medical bills if you get lung cancer. It’s just not right or responsible to expect others to pay for your unhealthy habits.

Same goes for big-ass sodas. Soda is just crap for your body. There is no reason anyone has to drink it. Sure, I enjoy an occasional Coke from time to time, but the idea of dumping that much sugar into my body is so unappealing. There is nothing beneficial or positive or healthy about doing so. And if some people can’t control their soda-drinking habits, then let’s start limiting them in an effort to protect all of our rights when it comes to how our money is spent.

Like I said before, I know this isn’t going to solve the obesity crisis, but it’s a start. Maybe super-sized fast food meals should be next.

 

Photo: thedailybeast.com

 

 

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    • Nancy

      I have to say I completely agree with those commenters. This is very dangerous thinking. I highly recommend you read the YA book “The Giver” by Lois Lowry.

      It’s the governement’s job to do what’s best for the public as a whole (in untrue theory, anyway), they are not supposed to be making individual decisions for people, it absolutely encroaches on freedom. I know this large soda issue is not a big deal, but every time the governement passes laws that invade individuals’ decisions the standards for what is a big deal changes. Where is the line? If they can’t cross it, they can just keep lightly pushing at it like this, with things that people might deem not a big deal. It sets a dangerous precedent for more laws that limit one’s freedom. If your reasoning has to do with people’s health, and how you don’t want to pay for it, then why can’t they ban all fast foods, or force everyone to get a set amount of cardio excercise every week, making tanning completely illegal, eventually set a given diet for absolutely every person based on their weight, etc. (Oh! I also recommend reading the Hunger Games series, that could help you, too). Then of course you’d have to put strict restrictions on sex (Watch Demolition Man!), and so on and so on and so on. In order for insurance costs to be fair, based on your logic, everyone would have to be required to have identical, or nearly, lifestyles, wouldn’t they?
      You’ll probably say this is an overreaction, but the point is government don’t have a right to control everybody’s decisions. And just because you think this law is a good idea, or just because a few politicians or whoever think it is, doesn’t mean everyone should be subjected to it.

      • MBKKK

        @Nancy – THIS! This is so well said. The government paying to raise awareness about an issue – like the ads the NYC Health Dept has been putting out about the amount of sugar in large-size sodas and the health risks associated with them, you can find them on YouTube if you haven’t already seen them – is a great, smart move that I hope will help people make better decisions about their health. But passing laws that encroach on personal freedom? Honestly, where does it end?

      • Nancy

        Thanks! And agreed, I will always think educating people to make better choices, but still allowing them a choice, is the most imporatant thing that can be done!

      • Rebecca

        I think comparing this situation to, or even assuming it could become ANYTHING like, the situation in “The Giver” is kind of ridiculous. the fact that Americans have it pretty easy is blatantly obvious by the way they will complain about the stupidest things. The government wants to regulate my soda consumption: next step, total fascism. It’s absurd how egocentric America is…look at the world around us. This isn’t a big deal. If it progresses into something like Lois Lowry’s very sad book years from now, I’ll reserve you the right to tell me you told me so. Until then, why don’t we all try to do something to better ourselves or the world around us, or at least just stop complaining and acknowledge how LUCKY we already are, and worry about soda later.

      • Nancy

        I obviously wasn’t saying that banning soda would lead to a situation like The Giver, and I don’t think you thought I did, I think you were just trying to discredit my point by saying that.
        If I’m wrong, let me explain:I was suggesting the author read that book, because the whole point of that story is to point out why individual freedom’s are important, so it might help make our points about it more clear to her.

    • Eileen

      No one’s calling you a communist. They’re calling you a fascist.

      Yes, everyone is, on some level, affected by the poor health of our country. But giant sugary drinks (and again, why the fuck is diet soda okay? artificial sweetener is just as bad for you as regular sugars) are not the problem – the people who buy them are. A law requiring smaller sizes to be available, I could maybe get behind. (Maybe. You could just not finish it, or save the other half for later) But it’s patently ridiculous for the government to tell me how much of something perfectly legal I’m allowed to buy (not drink, even – buy)

    • Rachael

      I also think you’re missing something when you start talking about the ” And don’t expect the health care system to pay for all of your medical bills if you get lung cancer.” bit. This actually reminds me of the whole birth-control, “why do you expect other people to pay so you can have sex” thing. If we’re going to start regulating the things people can and can not use the health care system for (especially people who have insurance, which is HOPEFULLY going to be an increasing number of people), then the list of people who messed up their own health will probably not start with “people who drank a lot of soda” as the number one offenders.

      Of course, obesity and crappy diets increase health care costs, but so do a thousand other choice-based decisions, and it’s a dangerous slope to start regulating those into non-existance. I don’t even know how I feel about Bloomberg deciding to ban huge sodas. They certainly seem wasteful and ridiculous. But it also seems like the way to change people’s habits isn’t to place them into a nanny state. All that does is take the impetus for health off of the people and onto their government, and with people that have demonstrated an inability to self-regulate, this will NEVER leave to lasting dietary or exercise-related change. It’s counter productive (not to mention, yeah, kind of fascist, not that I’m saying you’re a fascist) to our stated goal of helping people to be healthy.

      It’s obvious that something needs to change to help facilitate a health revolution. And maybe encouraging reasonable portion sizes, both in drinks and food, is a large part of that. But I think that this move by Bloomberg, and your reaction to it, is a case of ignoring the downsides of an action in order to get at the, incredibly important, end goal.

    • Erynn

      Somehow it seems unlikely that a bill like that would make it through anyway… Maybe I’m wrong but I feel like those who have commercial interest in selling people big sodas probably have a decent amount of lobbying power. Even if it did pass, what exactly would it entail? It’s not like they’re going to stop selling 2 ltrs (what would we do for parties?) just maybe like, ultra-mega gulps at 7/11. Actually come to think of it, banning those probably would be anti-American. :P

      I think it’s a difficult issue because unlike smoking, when someone decides to drink a big soda it doesn’t affect those around them the same way second-hand smoke DIRECTLY does. (You can argue about the psychological aspect of normalizing absurdly large portions of anything, but that’s different.) But also, would banning big sodas really make that much of a difference in people’s general health? I have to say it seems like sort of a weak attempt, but that’s just me.

    • James

      I don’t want to subsidize the health care costs of motorcycle riders, mothers or athletes either…does that mean we should ban motorcycles, sex and exercise?

      • L

        exactly. banning large sodas isnt going to change anything.

    • Melissa

      I think this is a great article, Deborah.

      While I’m not in favor of banning anything, or the government telling people what/how much to eat… I do think it’s time to address the astronomical size of food served by restaurants in the U.S. Having traveled to Europe and Africa, I must say most other nationalities wouldn’t even dream of serving 40 plus ounces of sodas in one serving!

      Mayor Bloomberg shouldn’t have to ban large sodas, any reasonable human should be smart enough to abstain!

      There is also a social conditioning issue at stake here; the fact that McDonald’s and co. suggest that upgrading serving sizes saves money (with their so-called value meals).

      Obesity is caused by lot’s of factors. But let’s not pretend that serving sizes have nothing to do it.

      • Rebecca

        That’s really a very good point. I will often order small sizes in drinks or ice creams etc. and receive an item that is anything but “small.” I end up wasting both my money and product since I can’t consume it all (certain things wouldn’t keep well as leftovers,) nor do I want to! I think larger portion sizes MAKE people eat more. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s been proven somewhere…I get that this isn’t a genius idea on the government’s part – clearly a rerouting of health and nutrition (why not throw in sex) education is in order. But I also think it looks kind of sad and makes us look reaaally spoiled when our citizens are all riled and in an uproar at 32 oz sodas being taken away from them…it’s pathetic. when they ban water, i’ll take notice.

    • Audrey

      I don’t think banning huge sodas is the solution. As others have said, this can go on infinitely–we’d have to ban sex, motorcycles, etc. However, warnings and notices (like on tobacco products) that the product is unhealthy could help people make informed decisions for themselves.
      As people said, making things that are safe in moderation illegal does nothing. Most people are going to do whatever the hell they want.
      Also, am I the only person who has realized that someone could just buy multiple smaller sizes?

    • robinvk

      great article and view point, thank you. Banning sodas won’t solve the problem, but taxing soda will certainly help. There is solid data that sodas have had a real impact on the health of Americans. If someone insists on drinking the soda, let them pay a tax. I certainly do when I go to the liquor store for my favorite gin.

    • Amber

      What exactly does this legislation accomplish? Not a damn thing, other than that our government is slowly trying to push the boundaries of its authority (You know you’re in a first-world nation when the gov’t starts trying to LIMIT the size of food stuffs that people can purchase, btw). I guarantee that the folks who wrote the Constitution and worked to form our federal government and state legislatures didn’t intend for crap like this to take place. We vote people into office to make laws that protect our rights and freedoms (or so we claim, as do they when they campaign). Our obesity rates, and my health, is none of my mayor’s business.

      Our national healthcare costs have little to do with our eating habits. Our healthcare costs come from having a primarily free-market healthcare system. Medical care is currently more about making money than it is about helping people, when it comes right down to it. Are our hospitals understaffed, underfunded, and being abused by people who refuse to pay their bills? Yes. But are they also run by administrators who make more in a week than most of us will ever see in our entire lives? Yes, yes they are. Last time I went to the doctor, I had to go to the ER because I have no insurance. I sat there for 3 hours in an empty ER to have a doctor stick a stethoscope to my chest, diagnose bronchitis, prescribe medication I couldn’t afford…and send me out of there not even 10 minutes after he walked in the room. I then had to pay not only for the hospital visit, but also for the doctor’s services (because he was a contracted physician, apparently doctors don’t actually work for the hospital around here) and was out about $1,500 for something I could have looked up on Google. I’m sorry, but I don’t see how a blood pressure reading, being weighed, and having a minor medical instrument placed near my lungs should cost anywhere near $1,500, nor do I see how someone else’s eating habits impacted that at all. In fact, I’m pretty convinced I was footing the bill more for someone’s Mercedes and the associated insurance expenses.

      Maybe a better alternative to legislating the size drink someone can purchase would be to require the fast food chains to eliminate soda altogether and replace it with something worthwhile. Or maybe use better quality ingredients in their food preparation. Or stop deep frying everything. Or limit the amount of transfats that are allowed to be present in their menu offerings. Oh wait…the fast food companies have the money to keep that from happening. Aha! Here’s an idea! Maybe make the soda manufacturers put better stuff in their soda…and fix the factory farming industry so the meat in the fast food is actually meat…and get rid of some of the GMO produce…oh wait…those companies can afford to keep that from happening too. OH! Here’s one! Make those companies that are producing the shitty food-like products that people seem incapable of resisting pay for the medical care, if you really want to make those responsible for the “obesity epidemic” foot the bill. Rather than limit our choices, how about presenting us with better choices. No, not “carbonated hfcs/aspartame and artificial colorants and flavors vs. water” but “real sugar & natural ingredient based beverages vs. other real sugar & natural ingredient based beverages”.

      Besides, what’s the point of banning “large-sized” sodas? First, what qualifies as “large”? and second, there’s this handy little concept called “free-refills” that might need to be taken into consideration. Personally, I never buy a large, extra large, etc. because I know there’s no point in paying extra when I can get the same amount to drink (just with a few extra trips). And when it comes to a large in a to-go order, the ice is usually melted by the time I get it even half-finished–which is gross.

    • Jaye

      Okay…. I thought maybe it was just a fluke that you sounded like you were okie dokie with taking away people’s rights, but this article has the same attitude, so I know it’s just you. I stand by my ascertion that you sound like a nazi.

      Never said making our nation healthier is a bad thing, that’s just a shitty way to go about it. It truly is a stupid, barely thought out, band-aid of an idea and it will not help anyone besides you, because then you can look down your smug nose and tell people it’s all for their own good on this nifty little platform you have here.

      Not buying it. Come up with an idea that will actually help and empower people to want to do better for themselves, I’ll support it. Until then, I still have rights that were hard fought for, and no matter how insignificant of a right it is (ahem, drinking huge sodas) I’ll be damned if anyone thinks they’re going to take it away from me. And obviously I’m not the only one who feels that way. ;)

      Considering what you do for a living, I’m surprised that you would be ‘for’ more government involvement in private citizens lives. There were times and places where freedom of the press didn’t exist, and whatever would you do if you couldn’t write ‘health’ blogs? It’s a slippery slope that starts with the phrase ‘For your own good’…

      • Jaye

        Grrrr and the lack of options for editing posts on this site is frustrating. My typo is staring me in the face. Obviously ascertion should be assertion, but I don’t feel too bad, there are worse typos in most published articles on this site. However, just had to put it out there that I have a decent command of the English language, but my proofreading could use some work. Certainly if it were, you know, my day job, I’d take it more seriously. =)

      • Rebecca

        why do you feel the need to reassure/prove to a bunch of strangers on the internet that you have a solid “command of the English language?” it’s just a typo, and the only person judging you for it, apparently, is you. that line about how you don’t feel too bad because your mistake isn’t any worse than others on this site was extraordinarily snotty. you feel bad enough to make a whole extra post about it, while taking a dig at someone else’s grammar in the process.

    • Jennifer

      It’s funny to me that so many people are suggesting that since banning large sodas won’t solve the problem of obesity then it must be a bad idea and therefore inherently stupid, fascist, nazi, i.e., whatever bullying adjective they want to ascribe to the people they disagree with.

      The bigger idea is that the obesity epidemic won’t be solved by one action. But this action has certainly achieved something useful. It has gotten people talking about soda. And some of those people might actually think twice about drinking so much high octane sugar with no nutritional value.