New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg this week proposed soft drink sales be limited to 16-ounce containers. Indeed!
I don’t drink much soda. I don’t even like the stuff. Well, there are a couple of flavors I like a little – but I long ago discovered they don’t do a thing for my thirst. They just make me want more, and more, and more – until I can’t hold anymore. It doesn’t matter whether they’re diet sodas; they work the same magic.
So I drink carbonated water, the kind that has just a hint of flavor and no sweetener. Sometimes I drink a beer (How come no 16-ounce limit on those, Mister Mayor?).
And I’ll accept that being overweight is less healthy than being at an ideal weight – whatever that is.
Mostly, though, excess weight is a profit-making tool – or a sign of a grandma who makes excellent cakes and cookies. (Back in the day, when we sat around a table for dinner, the same grandma made some pretty good meat and veggies to go with the cakes and cookies.)
For two decades of my Navy career, I maintained 240 pounds through a succession of flight surgeons and evaluation writers who thought, according to whichever formula was in vogue, I was too darned heavy to look like the sailors in those recruiting posters.
When Jimmy Carter was president, he, a former submarine skipper, wanted to visit a boat in Jacksonville, Fla. In preparation for his visit, the craft was cleaned up stem to stern. And after the scrubbing and polishing was done, overweight crewmembers were sent ashore so the president would see there were only poster-able swabbies in his Navy.
Not much has changed since then. I get a kick out of the late night weight loss exerciser sellers. It’s easy, they say, and painless. All you have to do is buy their program for a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars, and use it 20 minutes a day, three days a week.
I heard that mantra decades ago – if not while I was still in high school, certainly not long after. Twenty minutes a day, three times a week.
There is, for sure, an overabundance of sugar in soft drinks. According to the TV news the other evening, there is about 22 teaspoons of sugar in a 32-ounce Coca-Cola – a solution of sugar, water and a little coloring (plus some chemicals most of us can’t pronounce, but that’s another column).
A 12-ounce soda has about 10 teaspoons, according to Ellen Stoute, a registered dietician featured on the news report. On a hot day, I know people who can knock back several cans in quick succession. I used to be one of them.
The soda making companies know that.
If the mayor of New York City really wants to accomplish something, get the schools to serve food grown on his state’s farms. In fact, there are increasing numbers of farms within the city. He’ll help growers stay in business, and give the kids healthy groceries.
Get the soda machines and pizzas and French fries out of the schools. School should be about teaching healthier choices, such as where the food comes from, and some different ways to prepare it. If mom and dad want their youngsters to have pizza and fries for supper, that’s their choice.
Get the youngsters some exercise. Every night the news gives parents a couple more reasons to keep their kids indoors with the TV, video games and soft drinks, rather than outside where they can run up and down the street, play ball, roller blade or some such. There are risks to being outdoors, but there are ways to guard against them other than sequestering the kids.
Instead of regulating the size of a soft drink, regulate how much sugar is in it. Limiting size is a nice-sounding gimmick, but please don’t be so foolish as to say I cannot buy as many containers of the otherwise legal substance as I wish, and drink as much as I can hold.
That is an idea the New York City mayor’s neighbors down here in Pa. do not need.
Photo by Chris1051
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