I confess that I have not been following New York City’s trials and tribulations to ban the Big Gulp too closely. However, recently when I saw an article summarizing the city’s appeals to move forward with banning mega size drinks, it struck me as a bigger issue that just a cup of soda. Is this an infringement on our individual freedoms, or is this truly a public health concern?
As someone who works in an integrated medical and behavioral health setting, I can validate that too much sugar is a real public health concern. However, does that give the government authority to tell me or you that we can’t have a gigantic Coke while watching a movie during our personal time? It’s my opinion that alcohol and cigarettes are more of a concern than soda. The social and public health problems caused by addiction are detrimental to our society. Why don’t we ban 12 packs? Sell beer in individual serving sizes. Why don’t we sell cigarettes individually? Why hasn’t this brilliant idea been brought to the table? Moreover, if the government is so worried about our obese population, why not ban GMOs. Our bodies can’t process GMOs as effectively as natural organisms.
America’s weight problem is real. Anyone who has traveled overseas can relate this opinion. But it’s also up to our society to teach children and individuals about moderation. What is the need being fulfilled by consuming a huge sugary drink? What is the need being fulfilled by smoking cigarettes or drinking to intoxication? Some answers to these questions are external. Companies are making a lot of money marketing these products for our consumption. Some answers are internal. People use these things as an easy way to fill a void. They create a temporarily sensation of joy inside of us.
This isn’t just about the size of a soda. It’s about the government telling us what we can do with our bodies. What we can put in our bodies and what we can’t put in our bodies. And as a woman, this idea scares the crap out of me. Some may argue that this is a public safety concern in the same category as seat belt laws, and in many ways I can validate this opinion. However, we need to examine the core issues. It’s not as simple as banning a large soda. If we really want to go for the jugular of what is causing obesity in America, I assure you it will not bleed sugary soda.
At the bottom of the American obesity problem is a growing sense of apathy blanketing our society. We are not victims. Obesity doesn’t just happen. We are in control of our destinies. Not the government. Not the lifestyle commercials being rammed down our throats. Not the soda companies. Not big business. Gigantic sodas are not bullying us to buy them . You and me. We decide for ourselves how we are going to take care of our health, our family’s health and our children’s health. We are in control of our weight. We can seek a lot more effective ways to reduce obesity and modify behaviors than banning soda.