Health | Opinion

Big Soda in the Heart of the Big Apple

A New York Times poll has found that 60 percent of New Yorkers oppose Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s plan to ban the sale of sugary sodas larger than 16 ounces at restaurants and certain retailers in the city.

Opponents say it’s an infringement of personal choice. Supporters applaud the mayor’s effort towards combating obesity. I say, “Come on, people! Step back and see the bigger picture!”

The American Beverage Association and New Yorkers for Beverage Choices are trying to scare consumers with savvy advertising that claims choosing the size of your beverage is a fundamental civil liberty. I hate to break it to you, but they’ll say just about anything to convince you to fork over the money. “But diet sodas aren’t included in the ban!,” you say. “They’ll still be able to make their money from diet soda sales.” Well, the New York Times poll finds that New Yorkers prefer regular over diet. Just a coincidence? I don’t think so.

I’m not saying the soda ban is the right way to go. But instead of turning a simple health proposal into a full-fledged political campaign, let’s look at the facts. About 35 percent of Americans are obese, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Excess bodyweight has been linked to chronic conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which cost billions in medical treatment. Even if sugar sodas do not significantly contribute to weight gain (though one is left to wonder where all that extra sugar ends up), they certainly don’t do much in the weight-loss department.

To the opponents of the soda ban, I say your argument is weak. Mayor Bloomberg has proposed a plan of action while you have adopted the practice of complaining about free choice (need I remind you we’re talking about soda pop?).

If you can find a better way to help Americans manage their weight and improve the health of New York and the nation, then by all means kick back and enjoy the bubbly goodness of your favorite cola. I’ll even supersize it for you.

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