On September 13, 2012, New York City’s Board of Health banned sugary beverages in serving sizes over 16 ounces, except if they are sold in grocery stores or convenience stores. This ban does not apply to water (vitamin waters?), diet sodas (these would be reduced sugar drinks?), alcoholic beverages, drinks containing at least half milk, or beverages containing at least 70% unsweetened juice.
One might think that I’m thrilled with this ruling, given that fact that I have written previously about reducing all of the sugary drinks that we consume these days, but I really have mixed feelings about this. Do I love the thought that the largest sugary drink you can now order at a coffee shop or restaurant in New York City is 16 ounces? Yes! Do I love how we got to that place? Not so much.
Why is it so difficult for us as a society to take personal responsibility for our choices? We have been aware for quite a long time now that we are consuming too much sugar and that our rates of overweight and obesity in the U.S. are skyrocketing, and yet we can’t seem to get it together. Is increased government regulation really the answer? Will this new law be the start of what turns that around?
Additionally, in this morning’s paper, there was an article about how drinking sugary beverages actually impacts the genes that affect our weight, and the word “proof’ was used. The article discussed three separate studies that all came to the same conclusions – sugary drinks are tied to increased risks of overweight and obesity, independent of other unhealthy factors such as too little exercise or overeating. Finally! This notion has been tossed around for years now, but without strong studies to point to, it has been a tough sell.
Does this latest information increase the need for laws similar to what the city of New York enacted or will it spur us into making better choices on our own? Granted, lately we don’t have a very good record on that front, as it seems like everyone has a reason for their lack of self-monitoring or parental responsibility and is very willing to point the blame finger at someone else. And let’s not forget that sweetened beverages over 16 ounces can still be purchased at the local corner market or grocery store, where young, uninformed and unmonitored children can use their lunch money to buy that 32-ounce drink after school, or (gasp!) before school. Not sure how that gaping hole occurred, but there it is.
Maybe if we get educated and take a minute to understand the ramifications of continuing to make these poor choices, maybe we can turn it around without having to create more legislation. Maybe.
Did the Mayor of New York City start something that other major cities across the country will follow? Will it make a difference in our health? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.