New York City has just banned supersized drinks from restaurants, cafeterias and concessions. This is the first in-the-nation rule barring calorie-rich, sugar-filled drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces.
While I agree that these supersized drinks are disgusting and I'd never order one, I don't like the idea that very soon I won't be able to order one in city 3,000 miles away from me. To me, bans like this are an insult to our intelligence. Of course we know that the only thing worse than soda is a bigger soda. After all, a 64-ounce-cup of soda contains 780 calories and 217 grams of sugar.
That's a lot of sugar. According to the American Heart Association, the recommended daily sugar intake for men is nine teaspoons (36 grams), for women it's five teaspoons (20 grams) and for children, it's three teaspoons (12 grams) per day. So a 64-ounce is enough sugar for a week for a lot of people.
Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at University of California, San Fransico's Benioff Children's Hospital, says sugar is a toxin that is responsible for the global obesity epidemic. "Sugar: The Bitter Truth," is a video he made in 2009 that has since gone viral with close to 3 million hits.
Yes, there's no doubt that sugar in excess is bad. There is nothing beneficial from slurping on an enormous soft drink. But if we want to be crazy and live on the edge and risk diabetes and heart disease, shouldn't we be allowed to imbibe? And, if someone really wants to have a huge soda, is this ban going to stop them? Couldn't that person with an enormous craving for sugar and a big thirst to quench buck the system by ordering three large sodas instead? Or better yet, get a 16-ounce cup and keep refilling it at the self-serve soda fountains when no one is looking. Those haven't been banned…yet. And ordering three sodas isn't illegal…yet.
But say goodbye to pitchers of non-diet sodas, even if they are being shared by several diners. Those fall victim to this ban, which is to take effect in March.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who spearheaded this ban, compared restrictions on soft drinks to banning lead paint.
But why does Mayor Michael Bloomberg pick on drinks? If he's going after sugar, what about cakes? Or pies? Or, dare I say, ice cream? After all, a two-scoop hot fudge sundae from Baskin Robbins contains 530 calories and 52 grams of fat. Why does that get to slip through the cracks? Perhaps the chain should be shut down. Anyone found with ice cream or cake or pie, should be arrested.
As of right now, the regulations apply to establishments with food-service licenses. It affects only beverages. And some beverages have managed to be exempt—if they are made mostly of milk or unsweetened fruit juice.
So it's still okay to order a large frozen caramel coffee with milk at Dunkin Donuts, even though it contains 1,050 calories and 127 grams of sugar. And that Starbuck's Venti Caramel Frappucino with 510 calories and 81 grams of sugar? That's perfectly acceptable. And Jamba Juice's Peanut Butter Moo'd? That has 770 calories and 109 grams of sugar. But maybe because the word, 'juice' is in the store's name, it has slipped passed the ban unscathed.