Thursday, June 14, 2012

Proposed ban on large sized sweet drinks in New York is hypocritical & likely to fail

New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg has proposed a ban on the selling of sugar-containing drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces in all types of eating establishments including street vendors, movie theaters, delicatessens and even stadiums. The purpose is to limit sugar intake and theoretically help people lose weight by saving them from themselves.

The plan has received mixed reviews with some calling it a “nanny state” action. Also since a consumer can buy more than one 16 ounce bottle at a time, detractors point out that the truly motivated sugar addict will not be deterred. Supporters say that anything that limits sugar consumption is good. A recent poll shows that slightly more than half of New Yorkers think the idea is bad.

I don’t think it will have any impact on the general public at all. There is no proof that obesity is related to the size of a drink container. One wonders if the mayor is simply grandstanding.

But more importantly, the mayor could have far more influence if he addressed something he can control. That is the selling of sweetened sodas and junk food at the 11 acute care hospitals owned and run by the city serving mostly indigent New Yorkers.

On nearly every floor of the city owned hospitals, vending machines are stocked with mostly non-nutritious snacks and sodas containing sugar. Cafeterias and coffee shops feature similar fare.

If the mayor wants to do something constructive about obesity, he should mandate that his hospitals lead the way and stop giving obese patients and those with diabetes access to products that are not good for them. It makes no sense to counsel a hospital patient about a diabetic or weight-loss diet and then provide that same patient a vending machine full of junk 100 feet from his hospital room.

While he’s at it, the mayor should ban the sale of junk food and sodas in the more than 40 other private and not-for-profit hospitals in the city’s five boroughs.

That would be a real obesity prevention program, not a publicity stunt.


SeaSpray said...

Also ...not only will a truly addicted person still seek it out ...they may also drink more. There's a reason Al-anon and I assume other 12 step programs tell people you do not have the right to control another human being ...even when they are destructive with their choices. One of the reasons is it can drive the addict to continue or even want more.

I agree with you about machines in hospitals. i will says our hospital provides a mixture of some healthier choices along with the junk. And if you ban altogether then not fair to the people who just want a treat now and then.

I think it would be better if he banned all pink slime from schools ..stuff like that. maybe it's not an issue in NY - don't know. And I am all for having better quality food in school lunches, etc.

Personally ...I have never one time gotten those super size meals. maybe because I don't care for soda much ..but would never order any drink that large.

I still think it should be a choice and do take issue with government interference in the free market. the same people that would buy that probably do other things unhealthy. or maybe that is their one vice? I don't care for soda ...but I like pie. Should someone ban pies?

Maybe I am missing the point.

I just don't recall so much government interference/regulation as I have witnessed during these last few years. Or maybe I am wrong about that too. ?

And I know that at the other end of this is the cost of healthcare and the burden unhealthy people put on the system. I am glad about smoking bans because I don't want to be subjected to smoke ...but, I don't want to control a soda drinker.

And yet ...legalizing pot is advocated in some circles? And even saw that may be an October surprise coming from this president ..although I don't know if it's true.

Sorry so long Skeptical ..just frustrated. Sometimes it seems what was always considered good is now viewed as bad and vice versa ...or the truly important issues are ignored with talking points and biased reporting.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Sea Spray, thanks for some interesting comments. Someone at a JAMA blog has just written that prohibition didn't work for alcohol and it won't work for soda either. I wish I had thought of that first.

I'm glad you agree that at least we don't have to sell soda in hospitals.

Huhet said...

I'd be concerned about the people who were originally drinking say 24oz that will now be drinking 32 ounces when they buy two 16oz drinks. It might actually cause increased consumption in those people.

Same with people getting refills at restaurants.

Solitary Diner (Also Known as The Frugalish Physician) said...

I agree wholeheartedly with your proposal to remove junk food from hospitals. It bugs me to no end that the vending machines outside of the coronary care unit (where I'm working at the moment) are filled with chips, chocolate bars, and pop.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Huhet, I agree completely. And the proposal does not ban refills, although that concept is not really widespread in NY restaurants.

Solitary, I appreciate the comment. Thanks.

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