If you've read this blog before, you know that I'm a strong advocate for healthier eating, particularly in the foods we serve our kids. I am not a fan of fast-food meals or the over-sized sugary sodas that generally accompany them. There is no doubt in my mind that these foods are ridiculously unhealthy and unnecessary in the American diet. But I would never — not for one second — consider a ban on these products as the means to keep people from choosing them.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed such a ban, and as much as I will fight to convince parents and kids to avoid unhealthy foods, I think Bloomberg is dead wrong for proposing this ban.
Bloomberg's proposal would ban the sale of any sugary beverage larger than 16 ounces in any of New York City's restaurants, delis, movie theaters or street carts. Sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces could still be purchased in supermarkets and convenience stores.
Discussion of this proposed ban popped up almost immediately in many of the Facebook groups and email boards that I follow. Some greenies likened the ban to the plastic bag ban recently passed in Los Angeles. But leave it to my friend Tiffany Washko, the blogger behind Nature Moms, to clearly express the difference:
"I see a big difference between a plastic bag ban (which I would support) and a soda ban (which I would not support). With plastic bags your choice could and does have a huge impact the planet around you and it is not a choice you should be allowed to make.. trash the planet for your own convenience. With soda your personal choice may make you fat. Well that SHOULD be your decision to make."
"There are so many other ways to address obesity issue than take away people' rights. How about educating them? How about not taking away P.E. classes in school? How about teaching them real 'health' classes? Food subsidies is definitely an area that needs an overhaul. Outlawing people's liberty is not where it needs 'fixing'.
America is a country of choices. We don't always make good ones. In fact, more often than not, many of us make terrible choices, but they are still our choices to make. When you start to take away those choices, you start down a slippery slope of bans and prohibitions that seriously endanger the rights of Americans. I may think it's horrible that another parent would send in donuts and sodas for their kid's school lunch, but does that mean I can take away their right to decide what their children are eating?
Candy bars are unhealthy. Should we ban them? Red meat? Cheesecake? Heck, half of the foods that accompany those sugary sodas are probably unhealthy too. Should we ban them as well? Where do you draw the line? Why not give people incentives to purchase smaller and/or healthier drinks rather than flat out ban a person's right to choose their beverage size?
As Gretchen Sowers of HealthfulMama noted, "Yeah, I'd rather see warning labels and high taxes on soda before a ban. Next thing ya know, there will be Pepsi Speakeasies cropping up ;)"
Do you support Bloomberg's proposed soda ban? MNN's Lifestyle blogger Starre Vartan does. Read her post and let the debate begin!
Check out this video for more details on the proposed ban: