Earlier today New York City’s Board of Health ruled to pass Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed ban on over-sized sugary drinks, otherwise known as the Soda Ban. It’s a landmark ruling that is the first of its kind anywhere in the nation. At the most basic, the ruling puts in to effect a law six months from now that will ban the sale of sweetened beverages, like soda, sweetened iced tea, and energy drinks, larger than 16 ounces.
This means you can no longer order a large sweet tea at McDonald’s or a large soda at Subway. In fact, you can’t order anything above a small at any restaurant, street cart, sports stadium, or movie theater in New York City if it’s filled with sugary beverages. The ruling applies to any business that receives inspections from NYC’s health department. At some restaurants, their smallest cup sizes starts well past 16 ounces.
There are always loop holes though, and that is where places like 7-Eleven, Starbucks, and Dunkin’ Donuts might be able to help Americans keep getting fatter with every sip they take.
“The restrictions would not affect fruit juices, dairy-based drinks like milkshakes, or alcoholic beverages; no-calorie diet sodas would not be affected,” reported the NYTimes.com following the ruling. Large Frostys at Wendy’s are safe; Cokes in that same establishment are not.
See, 7-Eleven convenient stores don’t receive health inspections. You can still go there and purchase a Double Big Gulp, which is 64 ounces, or three ounces smaller than a two-liter. We’d all stop and think it ridiculous if we saw someone walking around with a straw shoved inside a two-liter of soda. How overboard that would be? But no one thinks twice when it’s in a styrofoam cup with a 7-Eleven logo on the front.
“Sir.. Please put down the Big Gulp and then put your hands in the air. I know you say it’s Diet Pepsi, but we’ll need to confirm.” Sigh.
— Jim Brady (@jimbradysp) September 13, 2012
Starbucks Trenta, which came under fire at its release early in 2011, holds 31 ounces. You can’t fill it with regular soda, but you can fill it with the equivalent of 2.5 cans of diet soda, which is arguably worse for you than the real stuff.
And at Dunkin’ Donuts, you can still order their 32-ounce Frozen Mocha to wash down your Munchkins.
“It’s sad that the board wants to limit our choices. We are smart enough to make our own decisions about what to eat and drink,” said Liz Berman, business owner and chairwoman of New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, in a press release.
Im about to get a Big Gulp….. and if Bloomberg tries to stop me, he gets Five Fingers to the face SLAP!!!!!!!!
— CIPHA SOUNDS (@ciphasounds) September 13, 2012
But are we really smart enough to make those choices on our own? A total of 70 percent of Americans are either overweight or obese, with 35.7 percent of those adults being categorized as obese by the CDC.
“In 2008, medical costs associated with obesity were estimated at $147 billion; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight,” as reported at CDC.gov. In Southern states, where Coca-Cola and sweet tea call home, the highest incidence of obesity exists in the U.S. The Northeast, home to New York City, is the third highest region for obesity.
In all of that, “we the people” have been left to make our own food and beverage choices. And the food industry has been left to put almost anything in our food without giving us much of a choice. So it seems that we’re either not smart enough to make these decisions on our own, not willing to make these decisions on our own, or just flat out don’t care.
Soda has been demonized by many more than just Mayor Bloomberg for its impact on obesity. Years ago in an interview, Jillian Michaels was asked what one item she would remove from grocery stores if she could. Her response was fast and simple – soda. Research continually puts soda in a bad light: Soda has been linked to bone loss, some research shows soda may cause kidney problems, and cancer cells like to feed on the high fructose corn syrup used to make soda.
Some even argue that soda is worse than marijuana, and yet only one of them is truly illegal.
To everyone freaking out that their Double Big Gulps have been banned, fear not. Tomorrow and six months from now you can go to your neighborhood 7-Eleven, fill up a 64-ounce jug of soda, and inhale 765 calories of nutritionally void, potentially toxic liquid because you have the right to do so. At the movie theater… not so much.
It’s entirely possible that all this hoopla will be all for nothing, though. Soda giants have already pumped millions in to campaigns against the bans and they’ll no doubt submit appeals to overturn the ruling.
What do you think about the soda ban?