NYC Says Goodbye To ‘Big Gulps’! Really?
New Yorkers may soon have to say goodbye to jumbo sized soft drinks and other sugar-filled beverages because Mayor Michael Bloomberg is gonna come down heavily on both. Since Bloomberg is not new to controversy, especially over his health policy for the city of which he has been a mayor for the past decade, his views on the large-sized beverages have also met praise and skepticism in equal measure. Whether the decision comes through or not will only be known this month but till then, the speculation continues.
1) War on Obesity
Mayor Bloomberg has called for a war on the super-sized soda only because he wants to take on the rising obesity levels in America. Expressing his concern on Television, he recently said, “The percentage of the population that is obese is skyrocketing. We’ve got to do something.” That “something” is cracking down on the sodas, especially the big ones. So, the Mayor has proposed a ban, unprecedented in the US history, on large servings of such sugar-laden beverages in New York. The Mayor believes that by banning such bubbles, he would actually be able to combat not only obesity, but other diseases such as diabetes, which are affecting people in the Big Apple.
2) The Ban
As said earlier, the ban is first of its kind and it will be implemented only after it wins the approval of “New York City Board of Health” this month. The ban calls for a ban on any soft drink, over 16 ounces or 1 pint in size starting March 2013. The restaurants found serving super-sizes of drinks, after the ban is implemented, will pay a fine of $200. After the abn, the New Yorkers will be able to order 8oz cans, bottles of 12oz and 16oz, but no 20oz bottles. The ban will be implemented in delis, movie theaters, restaurants, and sports arenas. Explaining the idea behind the ban, the Mayor said, “The idea is you tend to eat all of the food in the container. If it’s bigger, you eat more. If somebody put a smaller glass or plate or bowl in front of you, you would eat less.” The ban is applicable to sweetened drinks only and not the diet soda or any other drink, which is 70% juice or a drink that is half milk or milk substitute.
3) The Support
The fact that people often mistake even sports drinks as healthy may have something to do with the crackdown on sugary drinks. Besides, there is research to suggest that sugary drinks are contributing to rising obesity levels. Bloomberg’s decision to ban drinks more than 16-ounce has, at least, the support of the city health officials. The City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley says, “Sugar drinks are not the entire obesity epidemic, but they are uniquely, strongly associated with this rise in obesity over the last 30 years. There’s something about sugar water, as a product, which leads to long-term weight gain.” In the same breath, the commissioner also revealed that the New York City was paying up $4 billion as the cost for obesity-related illnesses. Surely, that is a point worth taking note of! Kelly Brownell, director of the “Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity” at Yale University, says, “Soft drinks are the single greatest source of added sugar in the American diet.” He hopes that the ban would be effective against the deteriorating health of Americans. Speaking of the common man, a chauffeur, Joseph Alan, feels that the unhealthy eating habits of his friends will eventually affect him too. He says, “I tell them, ‘This is affecting our insurance, because charges go up more treating people with diabetes and other health problems.’ I don’t want to pay more for health insurance so people have these drinks!” The fact that sugary drinks increase the instance of gout may need to be taken into account here.
4) The Criticism
You see, 16 ounces is considered a small serving at many fast-food joints and restaurants. Therefore, the mayor’s decision to ban any drink bigger than 16-ounces is bound to cause heartburn. Coca-Cola Co. was the first to express its resentment, in a statement, “The people of New York City are much smarter than the New York City Health Department believes. New Yorkers expect and deserve better than this. They can make their own choices about the beverages they purchase.” Those who are bitter about the impending decision have even blamed the mayor for trying to create a “nanny state” out of NYC. Stefan Friedman, spokesman for the “New York City Beverage Association”, is not sure whether the ban would do anything to “reduce New Yorkers’ waistlines.” Some people feel that they should be “free to choose what they drink or eat.” An analyst, Mark Kalinowski, is less forgiving, as he predicts, “Folks who want to buy Big Gulps and Frappuccinos, a lot of these customers, you’re only going to be able to take it away from them by prying it out of their cold, dead hands. Maybe the mayor can outlaw all soft drinks and outlaw all fun while he’s at it.”
Bloomberg has been the mayor of NYC since 2002 and during his three terms, he has actively pursued to change the health policies for New Yorkers. Some of his drastic health proposals have been regarding ban on outdoor smoking in parks, banning soda and other drinks from food stamp eligibility, crackdown on binge drinking, promoting salads in schools, asking restaurants to display calorie information on menus and menu boards, and so on. Some of these decisions were implemented while others were not. What happens to the ban on jumbo sodas, only time will tell!
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