New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg enacted a law that would limit New York City resident’s ability to purchase certain drinks. No, not alcohol. Soda. NPR reports that the “ban would have limited the size of sugary drinks at restaurants, theaters and food carts to 16 ounces.” Small businesses did not like the idea because large sugary drinks make up a disproportionate share of their margins.
The question is, would a ban be a good idea? On the one hand, drinking extra 32 oz sodas is probably not a good thing. With obesity on the rise in the U.S., incentivizing individuals to refrain from eating unhealthy is a generally a good idea. However, chocolate cake is also not very healthy. Should the city ban all high sugar desserts? My grandmother used to make very tasty mini cupcukes. Should these be banned as well?
As with all things, moderation is the key. Even excess in moderation is a good thing. If someone wants to have a 32 oz soda on a hot day, there is no reason to ban this. Or, if a parent buys a large soda so her three children can share the drink, this would be equivalent to buying 3 smaller sizes. Mandating moderation, however, is not only difficult in practice, but emenates from policymakers perception that they know more than the average person regarding how they should live their lifestyle.
I believe that eating healthy foods is good for people’s health and should be encouraged. But mandating what foods people can and cannot eat is to much for me to stomach (pun intended). While Mayor Bloomberg’s intentions were good, imposing a Nanny state on all New York residents violates basic freedoms.
This health policy blog raises a glass (pun intended) to the judge that decided to strike down this ban.