Thursday, July 5, 2012


Last month, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, alarmed at the skyrocketing incidence of obesity and type two diabetes among the young, proposed banning soft drinks larger than sixteen ounces. (Actually, Bloomberg’s strategy isn’t much more than a public service announcement, since sodaholics can buy all the sixteen-ounce servings they like.)

Muhtar Kent, the CEO of Coca-Cola, denied that his product was responsible for the epidemic. He pointed his finger instead at Americans’ sedentary habits. “If we're genuinely interested in curbing obesity,” he said, “we need to take a hard look in the mirror and acknowledge that it's not just about calories in. It's also about calories out.”

Kent’s position is obviously self-serving, like a drug dealer who blames his customers for their habit, but still, he’s got a point. Overconsumption of carbohydrates is only part of a popular pathogenic (disease-causing) lifestyle. Too many of us fall into our La-Z-Boy and watch the game while grazing on a sack of potato chips and a two-liter bottle of carbonated sugar water.

What comes up for me is that this struggle is exclusively between the government and the soft drink industry. A vital party, the American people (or consumers, if you will), aren’t part of the conversation. This reminds me of our so-called debate on healthcare reform, the participants being the federal government and the healthcare-industrial complex. At the 2010 Congressional hearings on the Affordable Care Act, you’ll recall, not one person testified who was identified as either a patient or practicing physician.

We haven’t heard from Jill Q. Public on the soda issue. Does she know the dangers of unlimited carbs, or that her taxes subsidize high-fructose corn syrup? If the issues seem too complex such that Americans rely on the government to protect them, they’re in for deep disappointment. If you want healthier products in a market-based economy such as ours, get up from the La-Z-Boy and vote with your wallet. Sure, it might be a little more expensive, but considering that tap water’s healthier than Coke, it might be much cheaper, too.

1 comment:

  1. Hell if I know how to change society. I can barely change myself. Education doesn't do it. Choices don't do it. I'm afraid that the only way that will ever work is having a healthier trough and society won't allow that.

    We are prisoners of our addictive freedoms, Jeff!