EDITORIAL: Weighing in: In for a penny, in for a pound

By Stephanie Sokol

At the end of May, New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg proposed a soda ban to limit the amount of sugary drinks citizens can purchase. Within weeks, fast food chain Burger King released their latest dessert, the bacon sundae.

In today’s health-centered economy, these kinds of mixed messages are all too confusing. When you turn on your television and see constant ads encouraging the use of drugs for prevention and treatment of illness, as well as the importance of exercise and nutritious diet, it’s difficult to believe that something like an ice cream treat topped with bacon would even exist. But it does.

According to Burger King’s website, the new sundae contains 510 calories, 75 grams carbohydrates, 61 grams sugar, 18 grams fat, 40 milligrams cholesterol and 670 milligrams sodium.

Saturday, May 30, Mayor Bloomberg proposed the soda ban for New York City.

The goal behind the proposed ban is to lower obesity levels in children and adults by fighting the increasing portion sizes of beverages.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s release of Amend Food Establishments states that “obesity is an epidemic: more than half of adult New Yorkers (58 percent) are overweight or obese; and 44 percent of NYC children aged 6 to 12 years consumed more than 1 sugary drink per day (in 2009).”

If passed on Tuesday, July 24, the ban will prohibit the sale of non-alcoholic sugary drinks larger than 16 fluid ounces. Sellers who breach this ban will be faced with a fine of no more than $200 per offense.

Restricting restaurant beverage sales would prevent citizens from purchasing what the NYCDHMH considers to be an unhealthy beverage amount, which could improve overall health. But if the government is going to take this stand against restaurants, they should do something about the other unhealthy menu items being served up, as well as providing facts why the rest of the menu won’t be regulated.

While both the government’s allowance of the bacon sundae and proposed soda ban attempt to make an impact on health, their intention is illogical. Since government is going to start controlling beverage supply at restaurants, they need to regulate sales of other food products, from large corporations like Burger King, to prevent them from releasing other unhealthy menu items.

Why does the government feel the need to ban the sale of one unhealthy item while continuing to permit the sale of other unhealthy foods?

In today’s modern society, government involvement is increasing. But it seems to be extending past what the founding fathers originally intended.

The government shouldn’t be discriminating against certain unhealthful foods. If health regulation is necessary, it is not right for them to target one food group when there are so many other harmful ones out there.

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Stephanie Sokol is a multimedia reporter for The Oakland Post. 

Email her at [email protected]