In Defense of Pop (or Coke/Soda/Soft Drink or Whatever Else You Call It)

Posted: June 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

If you didn’t hear about it by now, Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City is proposing a ban on all sugary drinks over 16 ounces. This ban includes pop and coffee! Read about it here. There are several things that make this proposed law absurd and I will try to address them point by point.

First off, the reason for this proposed ban is that consuming soft drinks leads to obesity. While that may be true, the proposed law is ridiculous. Big Macs contribute to obesity. Ice cream contributes to obesity. Candy contributes to obesity. Most any food or drink other than fruits, veggies, and water, when consumed in excess, will lead to obesity. Some of these other food items are far worse for health than soft drinks. For example, milkshakes have a ton of calories, yet, according to my research, even under the proposed ban they remain perfectly legal.  You may say that people tend to drink pop daily and only drink milk shakes and similar drinks occasionally. Well you happen to be wrong my friend. Like most desis, I spent time working in Dunkin/Baskin and there are people (surprisingly not all of them are fat), that get milkshakes and, more commonly, their cousin the Cappuccino Blast on a daily basis (usually first thing in the morning). Depending on the size and the variety of Blast you get, it ranges from 320 calories for a small to 1,000+ for a large. Some varieties of milkshakes can have up to a whopping 2,600 calories! (Random observation from someone that has worked in the food service industry– very overweight people usually load up on food and calories and then get a diet drink to go along with it.

The law may also encourage people to buy multiple bottles of their drink a day. The plastic bottles usually come in a 20 oz size. A few summers ago, Coke came out with the 16 oz bottle for 99 cents, and I, being the avid coke drinker that I am (don’t forget this one either), bought it quite a few times. However, I am not joking, you really can tell the difference, and at the end, you’re left feeling like your thirst isn’t quenched. This may lead people to buying two drinks (32 oz’s) rather than the usual one that they get.

On the other hand, things that are proven to be much worse for health like cigarettes, alcohol, etc. remain legal and available in stores. This leads me to the biggest question/problem with this proposed law.  Where does the government’s authority end? (I am not going Glenn Beck on you, calm down). Can the government really step in and say that you cannot drink this or that because we are deeming it bad for your health? What happened to free choice? The last time they tried to do this was Prohibition, and as we all know, it was repealed.

It is unfair to penalize the majority because of the issues that a minority is facing. Yes, minorities should be protected from things like discrimination, etc., but not at the expense of the majority as it is in this case. These carbonated beverages are just another way to enjoy yourself. Spicy foods never hit the spot unless you have some Coke or Sprite to go along with it. After a long hard day of work (especially those jobs where you have to be on your feet all day-trust me I know about those), they’re a nice way to relax. (When I used to work in one of those stores, I used to close the store at around midnight, then I would take a XL Sierra Mist and just sit outside and drink it and chill before I went home). In fact, Coca Cola was viewed as so important that during World War 2, the soldiers demanded it because it reminded them of home, so the company set up over 40 bottling plants across the globe to provide it for the soldier. (For details, see this and this)

The biggest cause of the obesity epidemic is not the foods we eat, but rather the sedentary lifestyle. If you were to go to Europe or Asia, you will see that the people still eat similar foods, but the people walk around more. Another thing that is a major contributing factor to the obesity epidemic facing the youth is the iGeneration. Kids that are less than ten years old have iPads (I just saw someone like that today!), iPhones, play video games all the time, watch TV constantly, and basically just never get out and play.

In my humble opinion, the best way to curb consumption of pop and other “unhealthy” foods is not a ban, but rather a tax. It’s a well known fact that when something is banned (I’m not applying this just to the soft drink argument but to things in general), a black market will emerge because the supply is restricted. The thing that was banned is sometimes still fairly easy to obtain. On the other hand, when things are taxed, it has a major effect, albeit gradually. Even smoking –tobacco is considered an inelastic good [the demand does not decrease with an increase in price due to the things “necessity”] — has been curbed due to heavy taxation.

To sum it all up, this proposed ban is uninformed, unfair, and un-American.

  1. Employedcollegegrad says:

    I’m working on a paper about a tax on sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) as an intervention for obesity, and SSBs are consistently being called the new tobacco in the studies I’m using as references. A bit harsh? What do you think?

  2. mwuddin says:

    Way too harsh. I mean, what happened to individual liberty. Even if someone wants to use tobacco, and they are aware of the risks, it is their right… And honestly SSB’s don’t have nearly as many adverse health effects as tobacco does.

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