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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Over-sized sugary drink ban could benefit Tucson

    The New York City Board of Health is voting soon on a law that would limit the size of sugary drinks in hopes that this will help the public size down as well. The board votes on July 24 and is expected to pass the law, which would make it illegal to sell sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces in restaurants, movie theaters, stadiums, arenas and food carts.

    Critics say this piece of legislation is a prime example of government over-regulation and have proclaimed it extreme as well as completely useless. It doesn’t prevent consumers from going for refills or second servings. If individuals still crave that sugar high they get from a 24 ounce soda, other sugary foods are still readily accessible for substitution.

    It’s no secret that obesity is out of hand in the United States. We’re fat, seriously fat. In Arizona alone, approximately 65 percent of adults age 18 and over are either overweight (40 percent) or obese (25 percent) according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and we’re not even close to the worst state in the nation when it comes to such figures. Mississippi takes the cake since more than 34 percent of its citizens are considered obese, according to the CDC. Sleep apnea, diabetes, joint pain and increased risk of stroke or cancer are only a few of the negative health consequences associated with obesity. An estimated $147 billion in medical costs were associated with obesity in 2008, according to the CDC. This cost is expected to hit $300 billion by 2018 if obesity rates do not decrease.

    Could legislation such as the ban being pushed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg stand a chance in Tucson or even on the UA campus? Some students feel a similar bill in Arizona would be a wise decision.

    “Many people wonder why we’re the most obese country in the world. When I traveled to other countries I noticed that they don’t even serve drinks as large as the ones served here. Everything in moderation,” said Erica Phillips, a UA junior majoring in psychology.

    Opponents to the bill, however, see it as an invasion of personal choice.

    “As unhealthy as it is, if someone wants to exercise their right to drink large sugary drinks, then they should be available to purchase,” said Bri Waite, a junior majoring in political science.

    This proposed ban may seem invasive, but realistically, its goal is not to take away freedoms, but rather to help Americans help themselves by inducing self-control. American sized portions are renowned as the biggest in the world and have only been getting larger over the years. The average size of the bagel more than doubled between 1983 and 2003 according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Despite what our bodies may be trying to tell us during a meal, we tend to eat or drink what is in front of us, often ignoring the initial signs of being full. We also highly underestimate our calorie intake. Implementing portion control may be just what this country needs to slim down.

    New York City has often served as the lab rat for many progressive movements and new regulations. Regulations such as banning smoking in workplaces, restaurants, bars, beaches and parks; the banning of trans fat in restaurants and a requirement for restaurants to post calorie counts, according to the New York Times. Not all of these experiments are successful, but for those that are, inspiration is derived from them, influencing other cities to follow suit, and thus setting off a chain reaction of innovation. If the bill passes and Bloomberg actually begins to see a significant decrease in the average body mass index of his citizens, perhaps one day Tucson will feel compelled to conform to the new norm.

    — Max Efrein is a junior studying journalism and history. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .

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