My husband and I went to the movies this weekend - a rare treat. Amid the plethora of previews, there was messaging from a political group advocating "freedom of beverage choice" and using language about how no one tells New Yorkers what to do - and that includes how much soda to drink.
The issue, of course, is far from over. After what will surely be a rowdy public hearing on July 24, the NYC Board of Health will decide whether to approve the proposal. You can read all about Mayor Bloomberg's proposal here.
Frankly, I don't think anyone needs to drink more than 16 ounces of soda. And I'm no fan of soda to begin with so it's a stretch for me to even be cool with 16 ounces. In my work with the New York City public hospital system, I watched with my very own eyes while a mother purchased a can of Sprite from a vending machine and poured it into the baby bottle of her toddler, who appeared to be no more than 2 years old. The family was waiting, ironically, to see their pediatrician. Sprite. Out of a nipple. For a child who didn't even have a full set of baby teeth. The image haunts me still. Childhood obesity isn't a debate. It's a fact. And stories like this one reveal the excess of calories that Americans consume from sugary drinks.
Can't we do better than this? Mayor Bloomberg thinks that we can - he has been a public health advocate from day one. People who oppose the ban talk about the need for more education about sugary drinks. But it's not that the messages aren't out there. They're just not heard. We have an expensive health crisis looming and it's time to take a more drastic approach. And let's be honest, banning certain sizes of sugary beverages doesn't make them illegal. It's not like you'll have to cross state lines to buy soda and do so surreptitiously. What Mayor Bloomberg is doing is taking a stand on portion sizes and I personally think it's a positive step forward. If you want to drink 32 ounces of soda, you can still do so. Just not in one container. Perhaps the pain in the wallet that comes from shelling out for two servings will make an impact.