I’ve been thinking a lot over the past couple days about NYC’s soda ban. It’s been really controversial, mostly, I think, because of the perceived infringement on personal rights. Personally, I think it’s ridiculous that this is even an issue. We should not need a law to tell us that it’s unhealthy to drink Big Gulps, which is basically what this law does. It is an attempt to hit people over the heads about nutrition while simultaneously saving them from themselves.
That’s fine if that is what it takes; however, I think that what has happened is that the focus has turned to the law itself and not to nutrition or the problem of obesity. It also promotes the stereotype that obesity is caused solely by poor nutrition. That is simply not true. Yes, portion size in the U.S. is ridiculous and contributes to generally larger sizes. But believing that eating (or drinking) too much is the sole cause of obesity is not only wrong but unfair. It places blame and promotes condescension of those suffering from obesity. It trivializes the serious economic, cultural, medical and psychological reasons that often contribute to obesity.
If cities want to ban ginormous sodas, that’s fine with me. But while they’re at it, they should call attention to the real causes of obesity instead of simply focusing on portion size. Addressing the root causes will promote a culture where clinical obesity is seen for what it is – a serious illness – and drive the focus to finding real cures instead of placing blame.