Soda Ban and Obesity Essay Example

Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines the word obesity as “a condition characterized by the excessive accumulation and storage of fat in the body”. If you look around, it's obvious to see that obesity is a crisis consuming the population, especially in New York City, where more than half of citizens are overweight or obese, according to the New York City Department of health. It is no surprise that the former Mayor Bloomberg strove to reduce the rate of obesity. However, one of Bloomberg's plans, a law that would make it prohibited for restaurants and other venues to sell soft drinks above 16 ounces, was met with a lot of backlash, for good reason.

This proposed soda ban is a terrible idea. It sparked an intense debate that burned on until it was struck down in court. Obesity is such a complex issue and can't possibly be helped by putting a lid on large drinks altogether. In fact, the ban may do more harm than good.

Soda Ban Loopholes

The ban, limiting the sale of large drinks has a loophole in the fact that those wanting large drinks can just buy 2 drinks. This makes the ban ineffective as it will only lead to more drink sales, as is shown in a cartoon picturing an obese man drinking two regular sized sodas after the ban, compared to the same man drinking one giant soda before the ban, seemingly completely unaffected by the ban (Granlund, NYC and Giant Sodas). Some may say that larger portion sizes have an impact on consumption. There's even a study showing that people will finish their portions, even if they are full ( Harvard Men's Health Watch, Obesity in America: Large Portions, Large Proportions). While this is true, people actually drink more soda in bundles than they do from large containers. In a study by UC San Diego, a mock concession stand was put in place. The mock concession stand tried 3 different setups; one setup had 16 ounce drinks for $1.59, 24 ounce drinks for $1.79, and 32 ounce drinks for $1.99; another had bundles of drinks at the same price point, one 16 ounce drink for $1.59, two 12 ounce cans for $1.79, and two 16 ounce drinks for $1.99. An unbundled menu was offered with only one 16 ounce drink for $1.59. The study showed surprising results, the subjects that ordered off the bundled menu bought more ounces of soda per capita than the other two setups (Healy, Proposed Soda Ban Likely to Backfire, Study Finds). The results if this study suggests that more soda will be drank if the ban is put into action, conflicting with the ban's goal.

Yet another loophole exists in the ban, the fact that it will not be enforced in grocery and convenience stores. The ban is unable to project itself onto grocery and convenience stores is because they are regulated by the state of New York rather than New York City. You may have heard that reducing the amount of soda drunk in restaurants and other places would help decrease obesity rates. Some might even say that reducing one drink every other week from 20 to 16 ounces a week would prevent 2.3 million pounds a year from being gained by New Yorkers (Farley, That 20 oz. Sugary Soda is a Threat to Public Health). This argument is flawed because it assumes places like movie theaters and stadiums are a primary source of soda in New York. In reality the average citizen in New York only goes to the movies 4 times per year, and stadiums even less. Daily trips to the local deli are much more commonplace, which are still enforced by the ban, and face economic hardship because of it (James and Mark-Viverito, Why the Soda Ban Won't Work). Chain restaurants can handle a few regulations, but your favorite Chinese place can't.

Why Soda Ban is a Bad Idea

The ban is also under fire from the citizens of NYC. In a poll, 500 people of differing backgrounds were asked how they felt about the soda ban, 53% of people said the ban was a bad idea; the only groups of people that had more support for the ban than they had disdain were those that gave Bloomberg a high approval rating at 57%, and residents of Manhattan at 52% (Marist Poll, Put Sugary Drink Ban on Ice… Ban Goes Too Far, says Majority). The opposition might say that despite the low approval rating, the obesity crisis can't be ignored. The same study even shows that 54% of people questioned think that they should weigh less (Marist Poll). Be that as it may, reducing the size of drinks won't combat obesity. 52% of people said that the ban won't help people watch their weight, this number grows to 54% among those wanting to lose weight (Marist Poll). With such a low approval rating, and even the citizens trying to lose weight doubting it, the ban won't be able to go far.

Although obesity is such a crisis in America, we are taking steps in the wrong direction to combat it. The debate over the soda ban left many on the fence, but evidence shows it wouldn't have worked. There were too many loopholes that rendered it ineffective and even detrimental, and the majority of the public criticized it. All of these factors led to the ban fizzing out. While some may fanta-size that the ban could've helped fix obesity rates, it's best for New York City to put the issue on ice. The best thing to do is to combat obesity through education, people need to make the choice to lose weight themselves.


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