Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Scapegoating Soda

I must confess: I absolutely love the bubbly sugar-rush I get from that first sip of a soda.  It taste great.  But the final swig of your soda never tastes nearly as good as the first, which just might be your body's attempt to tell you something, like, it's awful for your health.  Consequently, I have weaned myself  away from drinking soda, slowing moving from a major consumer of the drink ten years ago as a high-school student to a very occasional consumer.  I still want it; but I know I cannot have it.  

Last week, details of city government regulations on the sale of soda in New York City sparked a debate on whether government should take a stand on the ever present drink.  The NYC soda ban is one more hit to the beverage industry that's already struggling to return the drink to popularity.

Without getting overly political, it's my opinion that scapegoating soda is more about perception than reality.  Regulating, or even outright banning the sugary drink will not solve America's obesity problem.  It's not that simple.  

Consuming soda certainly has an affect on public health. Small steps have already been taken to regulate its consumption by youths by taking it out of schools.  Although some may see this as government overreach, schools are government buildings, so I believe it's rightfully the choice of their administrators.

When should the government step in to regulate adults' consumer habits?  They often do when they affect others, such as the case with smoking and drinking. Yet, unlike smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, two industries highly regulated, drinking a pop only affects your own health - not your neighbors.  It's personal health not public.  Obviously, inhaling second hand smoke is just as harmful as smoking the cigarette yourself while drinking can impair one's ability safely operate a motor vehicle on shared roads.

I understand public spending on medical bills makes obesity a shared problem; however, as the video comically points out, they're are a lot of other products contributing to America's obesity along with soda.  So why simply draw the the line at soda, if taxpayer is going to flip the bill for obesity, shouldn't they go to even greater lengths to save the public money?

Yes, soda is bad when it's abused.  So is alcohol.  So are over-the-counter and prescription drugs.  Cell phones pose a major threat to public health.  Perhaps ice cream, with all it's loveable innocence, can be bad if it's abused.  Shouldn't these items also be regulated in the name of public health and who decides where the line is drawn?      

I really don't know the answer to that question. But I do know that even during our much skinny days as a nation, soda was widely consumed.  That's been a constant but the reading on the scale has grown.  So, it's logical that soda is not the only culprit for America's weight gain, but appears to be the easy scapegoat.

No comments: