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The war on fizz has begun
05 June 2012, 11:13 AM | Source: LZ
Big as in well-fed.
Big as in chubby.
Big as in FAT.
That initial airport evidence can be backed up by statistics on obesity that place the United States as the world’s leader in obesity, piling in at an incredible 30 per cent of the population.
(Don’t get too comfortable, Australia. The same source ranks Australia at number six with a 20 per cent obesity rate.)
There are many reasons for such a rate and it is no doubt a complex issue but most observers could probably draw some kind of correlation between obesity rates and diet, especially America’s Super Size Me culture and the huge portions of food served up in many eateries.
New York State recently demanded restaurant chains display the calorie intake of menu items, a step that aimed to provide customers with information on how to make better eating choices (I now know a Dunkin’ Donuts glazed donut has less calories than an Old Fashioned – hooray!).
This week, New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg announced an initiative to ban the sale of any sugary beverage over 16 ounces in any of the city's restaurants, delis, cinemas or street carts.
“New York City is … about doing something,” Bloomberg said, announcing the proposal. “I think that’s what the public wants the mayor to do.”
This is New York, so it’s normal for contrary opinions. Unsurprisingly, the New York City Beverage Association responded in a statement:
“There they go again. The New York City Health Department’s unhealthy obsession with attacking soft drinks is again pushing them over the top. The city is not going to address the obesity issue by attacking soda because soda is not driving the obesity rates.”
America is a country where a small coffee is now a medium cup and XXX-Large is not an erotic film rating but a t-shirt size. It’s also a place where fries became an ideological weapon against French opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Mayor Bloomberg has been ridiculed as a “Nanny”, running a “Nanny state”, and perhaps most insultingly attacking personal liberties, an issue that is a touchstone for many Americans. The cry: The government has no business telling me what to drink, even if it’s a 64-ounce soda in one big gulp.
But this is a genuine conundrum. Let people eat and drink what they want or let fat people die from sugar comas and soda-induced obesity?
And if personal liberties are so important, why is America obsessed with a war on drugs and why can’t people freely use marijuana or narcotics? Take out the illegality on that issue and – bam! – there goes your black market (see alcohol prohibition during the 1920s and early 30s).
But that’s a whole new can of worms. Or soda.