Soda ban puts fair limit on culture of excess
Published: Sunday, June 10, 2012
Updated: Sunday, June 10, 2012 15:06
If you haven’t heard, the mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, has proposed a ban that would limit the sale of all sugary drinks over 16 ounces in New York. That means no more Big Gulps from 7-Eleven, weighing in at 32 ounces, or the average large soda from McDonald’s, which is 28 ounces.
Since this ban was proposed last week, it has garnered criticism from all over the country, especially from the companies that sell these oversized drinks. They argue that this is an attack on individual choice, no matter how deadly that choice might be to consumers.
Bloomberg’s proposed ban would make New York City the first U.S. city to limit the portion size to its citizens, which is by no means a bad thing. It should come as no surprise that America is the fattest developed nation in the entire world. One-third of Americans are obese, while an additional one-third of the country is overweight. This can be attributed to an oversized American food culture that has seemed to puzzle the rest of the world, especially in terms of portion. For example, the average portion of soda in France is 52 percent smaller than one in the U.S.
Let’s think back to another dietary eye-opener that took place in New York City. Super Size Me, a documentary about an experiment performed by director and filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, reveals how McDonald’s appeals to children by making the company appeal directly to them as an audience. Ronald McDonald, the always smiling and lovable clown, is an example of how McDonald’s attempts to cater directly to its child audience.
Now, the top advertising tactic of soft drink companies is not to prey on the naivety of children like McDonald’s does, but it does go after something else that people value — the money in their wallets.
If you buy a Big Gulp at 7-Eleven, you’re buying 32 ounces of soda for under $2. This is the epitome of American “value” – more for less. However, setting up Americans to consume larger portions for more value is turning out to be a very dangerous trick. Obesity is the third leading cause of preventable death in America, as a study performed by the Harvard School of Public Health concluded. Not only are we living unhealthy and potentially deathly lifestyles, but our generation is passing these trends on to the next one, as childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By limiting the portion size on soft drinks, Bloomberg’s proposed ban will help foster an environment of healthy choices instead of one that preaches the right of personal choice, but instead fuels a pre-marketed destiny determined to make Americans obese. It’s obvious that soft drink companies would rather gain a profit from their customers’ unhealthy choices than watch them choose healthy alternatives.
By proposing this soda ban, Bloomberg is simply watching out for his fellow New Yorkers. In a soft drink market where manipulation by price is key, someone had to draw the line and declare that enough was enough. It’s time for New York City, and possibly others to follow, to shrink our super-size culture, not just for ourselves, but for the next generation of young Americans.