The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Bloomberg's Ban Packs Weak Punch in Growing Obesity Fight

3 min read


I’m not much of a soda drinker. Even being a freshman on a campus with access to a never-ending supply of soda doesn’t ignite any desire to rebel against my mom’s voice telling me to drink milk with dinner. From looking at New York City’s law to limit the size of soda drinks, I’m guessing Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who proposed the law, had the same kind of mother, maybe even a bit stricter.

We all know obesity is a problem in America. With super-sized meals accompanied by cups that would comfortably house a couple of goldfish, I can understand the need to find some kind of solution for this growing problem. However, I fail to see how this is going to solve, or even make a dent in, the situation.

New York’s law limits the size of soda to 16 oz., knocking out the 24 and 54 oz. drinks one used to find there. However, this law only applies to stores that are regulated by the city, such as restaurants, delis, sports arenas and movie theaters. This means grocery stores can still sell whatever size sodas they would like for barbeques and graduation parties, and 7-Eleven can still sell their money-making Big Gulps.

Bloomberg, in response to the nay-sayers of government regulation, states that if someone wants to drink more soda, they should just buy or order more of it. This is great for business, but maybe not so much for regular people. And since grocery stores are under no obligation to serve smaller drinks, people can just buy their soda there. Since buying liters of soda is cheap, I’m sure grocery stores will see a pick-up in sales, as will the Health Department in obesity rates.

While this does force the topic of obesity back onto the table, it in no way helps solve the problem. When I go out to restaurants that have extremely large glasses that can be filled to the brim with whatever drink of my choice, I tell myself that this one glass will be all I need, and, most of the time, I can’t even finish it. Now, in the city of New York, people will spend more money to refill smaller glasses, and businesses in turn will make more money.

Yes, soda contains more sugar than I can acknowledge without feeling bad about every glass I’ve ever consumed, but limiting it does not make sense to me. Bloomberg feels confident in his decision, comparing it to the decision to make smoking in public places illegal. He added that even though people thought the smoking regulation would cause tourism and business to drop, it is booming more than ever.

Smoking is an entirely different topic, and trying to compare the two is pointless. Although both do affect one’s individual health, smoking affects people who don’t even smoke through the exposure to second-hand smoke. Drinking soda only affects that individual.

Obesity is a serious topic and one that needs to be addressed but Bloomberg’s tactic to combat the issue is not the way to go about it. This limitation will only cause people to spend a little extra in order to get a little more and eventually wake up and find themselves back at square one.