In an effort to curb obesity in New York, Mayor Bloomberg, backed by the New York Board of Health, has decided to ban the purchase of any SSB (sugar-sweetened beverage) larger than 16-oz. This will impact restaurants, movie theaters, street carts as well as some public venues across New York. Being in the fitness industry, I see people struggling with their weight literally every day and I believe soda is a main contributor to America's current problem with diabetes and obesity. Trust me when I say, there is no love lost between me and soda. So why am I having such a hard time getting behind Mayor Bloomberg's initiative?
I read that at the opening of the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, they are complying with the mayo'rs wishes, but I am confused as to how it's going to make an impact on obesity. A 16-oz cup of soda is $4. A 20-oz. bottle of Dasani water is $4.50 while a 24-oz. domestic beer is $9.50. My issue lies with the fact that there is nothing stopping concert goers from purchasing 2 or 3 sodas. Now, no one on planet Earth needs to consume 32 oz. of soda, diet or regular. But it seems as though that's exactly what many patrons did. They drank the same amount of SSB's, just paid Coca-Cola $8 for what used to cost them $5. It reminds me of the, "Every dollar spent is a vote..." quote.
Most irksome? At Barclays, a bottle of Dasani Water (owned by the Coca-Cola Co.) costs more than soda! Tell me, how is that helping?
The ban does not include supermarkets or grocery stores. So a 2-liter bottle (almost 68 oz.) of soda can be had for somewhere around a dollar or two.
Maybe a better idea is what is happening here on the West Coast. Both Richmond and El Monte, CA have proposed a penny-per-ounce tax on SSBs. It will be suggested to voters on the November 2012 ballot. Similar to cigarettes, if you don't purchase them, you don't get taxed. This kind of a tax has been suggested before, but has never come to fruition until now.
I don't know what the best answer is. I agree with Bloomberg in that I desperately wish people would drink less soda. But when it comes to diet and exercise, I almost always wish America would make better choices.
I wish soda machines didn't find a perminant home in our children's schools. I wish time allotted for PE in school wasn't constantly shortened and, sometimes, cut out altogether. I wish physical activity didn't take a back seat to, well, everything. For children as well as adults.
But should my wishes be mandatory?
So what's the answer, Alameda? A new tax? Banning XXL cups of sugary sodas? I'd like to believe we could govern ourselves, but so far, we haven't been doing a very good job.