Dear Mayor Bloomberg:
Your administration’s announcement to ban the most sugary soda sold at delis, fast food restaurants and Yankee Stadium was a smack in the face to the majority of the public this past week. I wish to commend you on taking a hard stand against a problem that has – despite our best efforts – spiraled entirely out of control. These regulations should have been put in place long before anyone could easily access 38 ounces of soda (though ironically, the exemptions to the regulations would be the very convenient stores that sell these ‘Big Gulps’ of Diabetes).
As a health advocate whose lifelong career has been to improve health outcomes, I was keenly interested in the response by the public to your proposed regulations. It got so bad that something had to be done, and the measures you have taken in the past and propose for the future are a giant leap toward better health for our communities and our country.
Many people object to these “far reaching regulations” which gives government the authority to choose what soda we can buy. However, far too few people recoiled in horror at the thought of what we have actually been drinking and feeding to our children. Considering that there are enough packs of sugar in a super sized “cup” of soda to fix every wobbly table in New York City, I wonder why this ban hasn’t been proposed sooner.
Your measures over the past several years have moved us in the right direction. Earlier in your administration, millions of NYC school children were feeding coins into school vending machines and then drinking carbonated or fruit flavored diabetes. The resulting obesity rates, and its accompanying co-morbidities, have burdened all tax payers with the high cost of acute and chronic care.
We applaud your leadership by publicly confronting this epidemic, even though the net liabilities of sugary soda technically fall on the shoulders of the state and federal governments (who are responsible for administering most of our healthcare).
The manufacturers and distributors of sugary sodas will continue to object to these measures, claiming that it is everyone’s choice to drink what they want. And it is. Except now that these measures are in the public discourse, we can hopefully have a productive conversation about our health and the ways to improve it. The food service industry is a formidable opponent, and despite analysts predicting that this ban will not greatly impact their bottom line, these corporations will relentlessly oppose policies that are in the best interest of the public.
In this case, however, we believe that you know better.
Seth D. Ginsberg
Global Healthy Living Foundation