Friday, September 14, 2012

When they outlaw soda, only outlaws will drink soda....

I bet every nannystater politician in the nation is rubbing their hands together over the NYC decision to ban restaurants from selling big sugared drinks, and planning what they can manipulate next.

Two things:

First and foremost: It's the individual's responsibility to learn about nutrition and health and to apply that knowledge to their life. And also, to decide what risks they're willing to take. I THINK most Americans over the age of reason know that soda isn't good for you in mass quantities. How "bad" it is, depends a bit on who you ask - I've heard some people that claim that even one sip of HFCS sets you immediately on the path to Diabetes and other problems...and other, more logical sorts, who observe that if you drink a big gulp once a month or even once a week, but not more frequently, and you're a person of normal activity levels, you're probably OK.

(Side note: I've seen a number of studies recently suggesting that inactivity has a lot more to do with poor health than diet. And they controlled for false correlations there - that it's not just that unwell people are inactive; it's that the skinny couch potato is probably set up for worse future health than their stockier cousin who works out, or who at least WALKS regularly)

I don't care that much for soda so I don't really drink it. I don't buy it (I think I have part of a 12-pack of 7-up in the house that I bought six or seven years ago when I had some stomach thing and thought lemon-lime soda might make me feel better. I should probably get rid of it; it's probably not good any more). I might, once or twice a month, get a sugared drink if I go out for a meal - though these days, I'm more likely to get a flavored tea, which at the places that make it right, has less sugar in it than most sweet teas or most sodas. If I feel comfortable making a special request, I'll ask for half sweet tea, half plain - because sweet-sweet tea is too sweet for me. Or I'll get plain and add a little sugar at the table.

But it's up to each person. Because everyone is different. I can happily live without soda, but if I were told "No more dark chocolate" (unless it was something that was, like, giving me an allergic reaction), I'd be angry and sad. I'll use the calories I don't expend on soda for my dark chocolate, thanks.

But that's the problem with statism: it's too easy to apply blanket solutions that might fit a few people, but will be bad for many.

I expect the next thing NYC will go after may be greasy meats. You know, bacon double cheeseburgers. Whoa, too much fat! Too much protein! Gotta ration people down! And so, you'll see places pushed to sell "junior" hamburgers instead - with only lettuce, onion, and tomato as toppings.

Second, and subsidiary: This is not going to have an appreciable effect on obesity, or childhood obesity, or whatever it is the politicians are claiming to "protect" the populace from. Because people will find ways around the law - they always do. Order 2 medium drinks instead of one large. Go to a convenience store or somewhere that can still sell the big drinks (Like any government ruling, there are carve-outs and exemptions....just like with the healthcare mandate). And at that, really, how much do sugared drinks affect an ordinary person's diet? If a person is drinking biggie drinks they are likely making other food choices that will negatively affect their health.

I expect, though, it will be some years down the line that we'll hear a "huh, obesity didn't go down after the big-drinks ban" and it will either be on page 32 of the newspaper, in small type, or it will be used as a push to promote banning/rationing/regulating some other foodstuff.

(And big milkshakes aren't banned. Nor are artificially sweetened drinks, and I admit that I am unconvinced that aspartame is safe....there are anecdotal reports of it causing migraines in some and possibly short-term memory issues in people who consume a lot of it).

So, this is just kind of full of fail. But expect to see more of it, because the government loves to find "problems" that they can "solve."

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