Opinion: Big Daddy in the Big Apple

POSTED: 09/14/12 2:37 PM

Let’s not beat about the bush here by coming up with all kind of cozy expressions for a harsh reality: too many people are too fat. Call it overweight, or obese or large size, it all comes down to the same. All these fat people pose a threat to their own health, but also to healthcare costs and in the end to the economy. It’s quite possible to be obese and brilliant, but across the board too much weight simply is not healthy.

This has also dawned on the city health board of the Big Apple. It approved a plan from New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg to ban the sale of large cups of cola and other drinks that are rich in sugars. The measure must help New Yorkers to lose weight.

The ban hits cups that are larger than 16 ounce (0.45 liter). Currently New Yorkers are slurping from cups twice that size in cinemas and stadiums.

The ban does not affect supermarkets or drinks like water, light sodas, alcoholic beverages and drinks consisting mainly of milk or juice. The ban will go into effect six months from now but the organization of producers of soft drink has already announced that it will take the city to court over the decision.

The question is obviously whether Bloomberg’s plan makes sense, and whether it will have the desired effect.

We have a tough time imagining someone gulping down close to a liter of coke from a 32 ounce cup, but apparently that’s what New Yorkers do. So what to do? The stubborn ones among them will most likely simply buy two 16 ounce cups to get the same buzz.

What we don’t like about the measure is that it is based on a negative: it is taking away something from citizens. We feel much more for our prime minister’s initiative to get civil servants and in their wake other citizens, on the move. Whether it is a run, a walk or a zumba class, it will yield pretty pictures of people who are prepared to do something to stay healthy.

In the end, this will result in a healthier society, wherein being overweight becomes socially less acceptable than it is now. That in turn might inspire overweight citizens to get active – not from a negative point of view, but from a positive one. That will surely work much better than acting like Big Daddy in the Big Apple.

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