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Monday, August 3, 2020

Columns

Soda ban: mindful but misguided


Photo by Lucas Sepulveda

Photo by Lucas Sepulveda

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has done the one thing that has consistently angered the people since the birth of our country; he told them no.

In a slightly random attempt to combat our nation’s obvious obesity problem, Bloomberg has proposed a ban of soft drinks larger than 16 ounces in all New York City restaurants, movie theaters and delis. It’s hardly surprising that a majority — 63 percent, according to one Rasmussen poll — opposes the ban. However, Bloomberg feels strongly enough about his proposal’s effectiveness to go ahead and spark the flame despite the outcry.

Bloomberg deserves applause for his continued concern about our country’s health. The future of our nation’s life expectancy is threatened as the obesity epidemic and Americans continue to grow out of control. Unfortunately, if the mayor expects significant results from his new soda ban, he will likely be disappointed.

Developing a solution to obesity is not easy, and there’s a reason why this problem seems to show no sign of slowing. Banning large, sugary drinks is simply not going to cut it; the proposal’s value is not worth angering the public like it so adequately has.

If anything, the ban serves less as an actual solution to obesity and more of an example to the public and the food industry of a movement toward a healthier policy, an outcome that does have substantial value. Whether this results in a positive or negative outcome is left to be determined. Based on the extreme public disapproval of the proposal, progressive health gains are in no way guaranteed. Bloomberg’s intentions are good, but this ban is just a blind jab at a fast-moving, overpowering health crisis that will be left unfazed.

What plagues the health of Americans the most seems to simply be a lack of knowledge. Many people just don’t appear to know how destructive some of the food their eating actually is — not particularly surprising. For now, the most effective way that government leaders can combat obesity is to insist through policies that citizens are properly educated about nutrition and the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle. Telling Americans what and how much to consume is not going to work; we have to make those decisions ourselves.

There are far too many factors out there that contribute to obesity to single out large soft drinks. While the proposal obviously can’t make things worse for our health, it isn’t going to make things much better. With cheap, fattening meals next to overpriced healthy ones, coupled with the indulgent culture that surrounds us, those who want to eat unhealthy will find ways to eat unhealthy. Banning large soft drinks will not change that.

Lucas Sepulveda is a creative writing senior and may be reached at [email protected]

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