Filed under: Government, Health in America | Tags: big gulp, coca cola, environment, fast food venues, government, health, health education programs, healthcare, mayor bloomberg, mental-health, new york city, pepsi, politics, public schools, republican, science, society, soda, sugary drinks
Since the emergence of “The Battle of the Big Gulp” in New York City, I have been on the fence. In this case I have actually become quite annoyed with my indecisiveness because I can understand both sides of the story. Generally, I tend to hold a solid stance on a topic and rarely waver from my original ideals once I have acquired all the facts. Nonetheless, after much consideration I have mustered a relatively congruent opinion.
I agree with critics of the proposed bill in that the government should not attempt to alter individuals’ behaviors by criminalizing their choices. Just like prohibition didn’t stop people from drinking, forbidding sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces at various food venues isn’t going to keep people from guzzling excessive amounts of soda. Although Americans are indeed capable of making some shockingly stupid decisions, we are smart in the sense that we know how to maneuver around laws and policies in order to get what we want. If people want to drink more than 16 ounces of soda, they’re going to drink more than 16 ounces of soda-it’s that simple. But for those of you who refuse to believe that consuming insane amounts of sugar is detrimental to your health, all I have to say is good luck with that. Call me in five years (maybe less) when you have diabetes. Point being, our choices should not lie in the hands of the government. In the simplest of terms this should be the extent of the government’s involvement. “Soda is bad for you, you should limit your consumption. If you don’t limit your consumption then you may be left with serious health problems”. If people proceed to drink ridiculous volumes of soda then screw it, they know good and well what the possible risks are.
However, do I believe we should outlaw the distribution of uncontrolled amounts of sugary drinks to children without parental regulation-absofreakinglutely! Kids don’t know any better and they certainly aren’t thinking about the possible affects the soda they have today might have on their body later (indeed something to work on). If we are going to trust the public school systems to cradle the intellectual development of our children without our supervision then we better be able to trust them with their biological development too! Which brings me to my next and final point.
As a country we need to generate nationwide volunteer based health education classes for parents and children that are easily accessible for individuals of all social groups regardless of their financial status. This especially needs to take place in the cities where obesity and diabetes are most prevalent. Far too many parents are completely unaware of the dangers lurking in the food and drinks their children are ingesting. Whether they are provided at school, a friend’s house or in their home; parents need to have the appropriate knowledge in order to create a more effective plan insuring the optimal growth of their offspring.
All in all, I can see eye-to-eye with the skeptics who want the government to butt out. I have said it in previous posts regarding America’s healthcare system and I’ll say it again. People with health problems need to take their lives into their own hands. If not well then sorry-it’s their own damn fault! We shouldn’t have to use our hard earned tax dollars to clean up the mess they made for themselves. However, we most definitely need to regulate the consumption of high-sugar drinks in minors as well as bring into play nutrition education programs for families regardless of their financial status.
I’ll leave you with this simple but profound quote, “This cheap food is way too expensive”. (CNN Representative)