Monday, November 19, 2012

Rant: New York Bans Large Cups Of Beer

Sometime in the near future...

Previously, New York City banned "sugar-sweetened" drinks, mainly soda, in cups larger than 16 ounces though it did not apply to drinks containing alcohol. The idea behind the ban was to help fight obesity. Then a government study determined that alcohol consumption actually contributes nearly as many empty calories as soda. In response, Mayor Bloomberg pushed though a ban on cups of beer and other alcohol larger than 16 ounces. Where will those bans end?

The soda ban is real and something which I oppose. I don't think it will really accomplish anything and it seems to be the low hanging fruit in the battle against obesity. There are ways to bypass the ban, such as all-you-can drink soda machines, which help to blunt any effect of the ban. It doesn't stop people from buying huge soda bottles at the supermarket and guzzling them at home. What is worrisome is that this could be the first step in a series of bans of other foods and drinks.

The government study on alcohol consumption is also real. The Las Vegas Sun reported that soda and other sweetened drinks account for 6% of an average person's calories, while alcohol accounts for about 5%. Not much difference there. The issue is divided by gender, with men usually consuming an average of about 150 calories from alcohol each day, while women only consume an average of 50 calories. Men also drink mostly beer while women have no clear favorite alcohol of choice. All those calories certainly add up over the span of a year.

A ban on large cups of alcohol could become a target of the near future. Though the city claims it has no immediate plans to ban it, there is at least one public health advocacy group which supports such an alcohol ban. They could push for such a ban, and maybe New York City would change their mind and institute such a ban. How many other cities might follow the example of New York City?

Let people eat and drink what they want. Stop these bans on items like foie gras and soda. Such bans seem more for public show than actually accomplishing anything of significant value. People can always find ways around such bans. The time spent on working on these bans could be better spent in many other areas, like trying to create jobs. Educate people about the potential dangers of items like sweetened drinks, but allow them the right to make their own choices.

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