New York City’s effort to curb obesity by barring the sale of supersized soft drinks at some venues is an experiment many on both sides of the border will watch.
Critics have come out with spigots blazing — some saying government has no place in regulating such a personal choice and others suggesting the limited ban will do little good in curbing American’s junk food obsession.
The mayor says it doesn’t limit customer choice, people can continue to buy as many cups or bottles of pop as they choose, but none will be larger than 16 ounces.
The ban means places with a fast-food licence, including fast-food joints, movie theatres, delis and concessions at stadiums, cannot sell big sugary drinks. It doesn’t apply to grocery stores and convenience stores like 7-Eleven nor to drinks made mostly from unsweetened juice or milk apply.
City officials hope the ban will see people cut down their pop intake and start talking about the importance of reducing their sugar intake.
The NYC health commissioner says pop is the “largest source of added sugars to our diet” and is “the largest single driver of the obesity epidemic,” but whether this ban makes any impact on obesity remains to be seen.
We wonder if those who are calling it an assault on personal freedom considered how much the average drink size has increased in recent years — a standard soda today is 20 ounces yet in the ‘80s it was 12.
A 20-ounce can of Coke has 240 calories, while a 16-ouncer has 200 calories. This means for a person drinking a pop a day, the larger size would translate into an extra 14,600 calories a year, or about 1.8 kilograms of fat. To burn that off, an average-sized woman would have to walk 550 kilometres.
In Canada, around one in four adults is obese. Estimates show obesity costs the economy anywhere from $4.6 billion to $7.1 billion each year.
We expect government to effectively manage our tax dollars and over 40 per cent of provincial spending already goes toward health care in B.C.
So if the NYC experiment shows any progress in the fight against obesity, expect a similar idea to be tossed around up here, too.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by editor Robert Koopmans, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, news editor Mike Cornell or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.