New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is stepping up his efforts to fight rising obesity by proposing a city-wide ban on selling sodas and other sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces in restaurants and movie theaters. As with some of Bloomberg's previous moves — such as bans on smoking in restaurants and parks, and a prohibition against artificial trans fat in restaurant food — the proposal has provoked cries of nanny-state meddling. Has Bloomberg hit on an effective way to force New Yorkers to live more healthy lives, or has he taken his war on fat too far?
This is useless nonsense: Bloomberg's attack on soda is "stupid, paternalistic, and completely unenforceable," says Juan Cole at Balloon Juice. Anyone thwarted from buying a 32-ounce super-sized Coke will be able to buy two 16-ouncers. And juices and milkshakes are worse than soda, because people guzzle them thinking they're healthy when they contain as much sugar as a fizzy "gut bomb." The "diabesity epidemic" is real, "but this won't do anything to stop it."
"First they came For my Big Gulp, and I said nothing"
Actually, Bloomberg's plan just might work: Portion sizes are ballooning out of control in this country, says Sarah Kliff at The Washington Post. "The average fast-food soda is now seven times as large as it was in the 1950s." Studies show that when portions get bigger, people figure it's normal to scarf down more, so they get bigger, too. "On the flipside, when portions get reduced, calorie consumption goes down," so Bloomberg's plan has a decent chance of actually working.
"Why New York City’s Big Gulp ban could be a big success"
The issue is freedom, not waistlines: "It may well be that Americans ought not to drink 20-ounce soda bottles any more than they should smoke," says Jonathan S. Tobin at Commentary. But what Bloomberg seems to be forgetting is that "we live in a free country" where we have the right to make choices — and, yes, suffer the consequences — without our government imposing "draconian" measures to stop us. Our health problems are bad, but this assault on our personal liberty is worse.
"The issue is freedom, not soft drinks"