Friday, June 1, 2012

Mayor Bloomberg Wants the Big Apple to Slim Down

The Big Apple Wants to Slim Down

Mayor Bloomberg of New York City yesterday proposed a ban on sweetened drinks over 16 ounces in size.

Mayor Bloomberg of New York City today issued a proclamation celebrating National Doughnut Day.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Half of adult New Yorkers are overweight and Type 2 diabetes is becoming a problem.

The solution therefore lies in banning Coke and Pepsi, but pigging out on Krispy Kremes.

One problem when Big Brother attempts to legislate conduct is that the resulting restrictions can appear incredibly arbitrary and capricious.

For example, the Mayor’s purported ban only limits the size of the drink – not the number purchased. Thus the vendor could offer a twofer for 2 16 oz beverages instead of one 24oz drink. The extra sugar would be legal. Similarly the proposed ban does ban refills, even unlimited refills.

The proposed restrictions would apply to purveyors regulated by the New York City Board of Health, limiting it to restaurants, movie theatres, sports venues, and street vendors. It does not apply therefore to grocery stores, convenience stores (You can still get a Big Gulp at a 7-11 in the Big Apple), newsstands or vending machines. Look for the specials on 2 liters sodas at the local store.

It excludes dairy based beverages, such as milk shakes or your favorite latte at Starbucks, as long as it’s over 51% dairy. A daily dose of large lattes can add to your waistline very quickly.

Nor does it apply to fruit juices, which can contain large levels of sugar.

It is inapplicable to beer or alcohol. Beer, even light beer, is fattening.

It is therefore legal to start the morning out with a latte, have a shake at lunch, and finish the evening with a few brewskis.

Many of the Big Apple’s pretzel vendors also sell Dove Bar ice creams cones, or competing ice cream products. No limit is imposed on these succulent delights.

Recent studies show that consuming diet drinks in lieu of sugared sodas has no effect on weight gains. The reasons aren’t yet fully understood, but the reality is that diet drinks are not a panacea.

Questions arise: First, why a 16oz limit? Why not 12oz, or some other arbitrary figure?

Second, what’s happened to individual liberty and personal choice?

Third, why do we continue to underestimate the ingenuity of teenagers in seeking out the junk foods of their choice as schools impose restrictions on school lunches and vending machines when the empirical evidence shows these restrictions have been as effective as Prohibition or the War on Drugs?

Fourth, why will these new restrictions be any more successful than earlier bans on Happy Meals, fast food restaurants, and booster activities?

Fifth, will New York City anoint several of New York’s finest as food police?

Sixth, doesn’t New York City have “bigger” problems than the size of sodas?

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