The Big Apple Bans Big Soda. I’m impressed.

Or rather it bans big sugary drinks. It’s one of the shrewdest moves I’ve seen in the public sphere around psychologically resetting beverage serving sizes and, by extension, sugar and caloric intake per serving.

Given NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s ban’s arguable practicality it’s interesting it’s just now happening, though admittedly, it’s not for the risk-averse. A mayor of the free world’s largest city has a fiduciary duty to the citizenry to take on big problems in creative and efficient ways. A national epidemic of overweight and obesity requires such an official to vote. And the ban will meaningfully add to an experiential public health and policy database about what levers may alter behavior affecting the public’s health interest. It’s a bold stroke of leadership. I support it.

It’s unclear where behavioral change thresholds are for big sugary drink servings. But Bloomberg is willing to search. We do know Americans don’t eat or drink purely due to hunger or thirst–so by definition serving size is malleable.

Naysayer group 1: “big government”

These opponents are misdirected: Any nation’s first duty is self-defense. So in a country without conscription, government has a primary duty to regulate the health profile—among other things—of the general population from which the military is  drawn; hence, vaccinations for public school teachers and pupils, regulation of the agriculture industry, quarantine law, etc.  Some of our most important and long-instituted food regulations and nutritional standards today derived straight from the Department of Defense. We can’t source a military with insulin dependents.

Naysayer group 2: “too many loopholes”

They claim folks will just buy two 16-oz big sugary drinks to get the old 32 oz. they used to.  Not necessarily: It’s less convenient and inconvenience is a tax. From web pages that load seconds too slowly; to stepping well outside to smoke; to voice-automated menus with excessive steps; to merchandise too low on a shelf; to right houses in wrong locations; we avoid inconvenience. Over the course of one New York City minute and time-sensitive day, that can include queuing up for a refill, additional beckonings of a waiter, multiple treks to the movie concession area, or carrying 2 drinks vs. 1 from the start. Lastly, even if they refill, the point is they refill at a lower caloric rate—sugar and calories per refill. That’s a plus.

For the record, of course, overweight and obesity cost.


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