New York’s visionary bill cracks down on sugar

New York’s visionary bill cracks down on sugar

Ashley Ding

The vanilla bean frappuccino is a popular seller at Starbucks Coffee. Under New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s bill, it would not be available for purchase in the 24-ounce venti size — 8 ounces over the limit. Photo by Ashley Ding.

Like your vanilla bean frappuccino? You could order it in a size tall, or perhaps in grande. However, you wouldn’t be able to order this sugary shot of goodness in size venti under the revolutionary law proposed by New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Known for pioneering the law that now requires chain restaurants to post calorie counts, Bloomberg now espouses a new law that restricts the amount of sugar-sweetened drinks to cups smaller than 16 ounces. Although it was shot down by a state judge just two weeks ago, the day before it was to be put into effect, there still remains much debate over the law. Despite the opposition, a ban on sugar provides many benefits, and should be adopted by other states, including California. Nationally, obesity rates are on the rise — with one out of three teenagers being overweight — and sugar, not fat,  is the leading culprit of this epidemic.

Americans need the government to step in to curb sugar consumption, so that the bodies of Americans may once again be restored to their once healthy state.  In 1995, over six percent of the U.S. population had diabetes in only three states. By 2010, all 50 had surpassed that number. Some have even seen their rates double.

Too much sugar means more than just health risks: financially, it is taxing as well. Huge medical expenses drive up the cost of medical services for everyone. Currently, one in five U.S. health care dollars goes to care for those diagnosed with diabetes.

Opponents accuse Bloomberg of running a “nanny state” and that the responsibility of promoting healthy eating belongs to parents and educators. However, how exactly is the state supposed to enforce proper parenting and check that everyone knows the consequences of sugar consumption? Furthermore, if parents and educators have been held accountable, they haven’t been doing a very good job as shown by the increase in diabetes rates.

Others also argue that the government is overstepping its boundaries and taking away the freedom of its citizens. There has always been a careful balance between order and freedom in this country. In this case, for those who argue that the drinks are being are being taken away from consumers, the answer is simple: for those who still want a larger size drink, buy another one. For others, a cap on the size will be an incentive for them to consume less.

Although California isn’t at the top of the leader board for diabetes and obesity rates, (it’s ranked in the bottom ten) there is still a pressing concern to limit sugar consumption. A decade ago, California was the first state to ban the sale of soda in elementary schools, which resulted in a daily intake of about 160 calories fewer than students in other states, according to a study conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago. Legislation has worked in the past, and legislation can work now. Instead of confining measures to schools, we should expand our scope and target the state. Students won’t be the only ones getting healthier from legislation.

While the law proposed by Bloomberg was shot down by a state judge on the basis of being “arbitrary” and “capricious” (the law would only apply to places like restaurants and delis, but not others like grocery stores), there is clear evidence that diabetes is a growing problem; 4.5% of the American population was diagnosed with the condition in 1995 in comparison to 8.2% in 2010. It’s time for the government to do something about this growing epidemic.