It’s time once again for The Future American’s FAIL OF THE WEEK! Every Saturday, I name a person or group who has spent the past seven days behaving in a particularly idiotic way. Since it’s my belief that idiocy knows no politics, nobody is safe.
This week’s fail was brought to you by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. For the record, I admire the goal of combating obesity, and this is certainly best done on the local level. Other mayors have done it by encouraging city-wide physical activity and prioritizing healthy, locally grown food. (See: This, this and this.) But Bloomberg has always had an independent streak, and it certainly came out when he vowed to crack down on really big cups of soda.
Under his plan, restaurants, delis and cinemas would only be permitted to sell drinks at or under a half-liter/16-ounce limit. That’s roughly the average size of an individual bottle – which I rarely finish in one meal – and I’d be hard-pressed to name anyone who would be all that upset by not being able to drink that much at once. Besides, if we’re talking about regular soda, that sugar content does pack a punch. Not to mention the subsequent bloating that, if it doesn’t actually make you fat, will certainly make you feel that way for an hour or two. (It’s called water, people. Look into it.)
However. Bloomberg has not proven that massive sodas are such a leading cause of obesity that they merit a full-scale ban. And even if this is just the tip of the iceberg – what’s next, a surtax on bacon? – is it either productive or right for the city to ban specific foods and beverages? We’re not talking about bath salts here. Sugary soda might be bad for you, but anyone above the age of 12 should be well aware of that before they put every available flavor of Slurpee into their Big Gulp cup. (I had friends in high school who would do that. They were typically overweight. Just throwing that out there.)
If anyone is going to phase out massive sodas, it should be the responsibility of the businesses themselves taking the lead on portion control. The trend of small/medium/large became popular in the 70s when businesses wanted to benefit more from already enormous profit margins on snacks and drinks. Only all of those portions were smaller then. Imagine what a PR coup it would be for a major chain to announce that they were downscaling everything. Remember how ridiculous Hardee’s looked when this came out? Downscaling could be the natural response, albeit a late one.
In the meantime, Bloomberg, trust your own citizens to figure out what’s good for them. Or teach them what’s good for them. But this isn’t education. This is just public shaming.