I’ve been finding the response to NYC’s recent ban on the sale of pop (soda to you Americans) in containers larger than 16 oz interesting, and telling. A recent poll in the States found that many citizens are opposed to government involvement in deciding what we eat. These respondents don’t want the government to restrict pop size, post calories, or limit fast food outlets. The notion that the government isn’t already deeply involved in determining our diets is a little naive. Why do you think that pop is so inexpensive anyway? Government subsidies to sugar producers, that’s why.
The main reasons people cite for not eating healthily are lack of time and affordability. Why do we lack time? Because our society has been constructed around the notion that putting in long hours at sedentary jobs is ideal. Why are healthy foods (at least perceived to be) less affordable than their unhealthy counterparts? Because ingredients that go into “junk” foods are often subsidized by the government, allowing the food industry to produce them cheaply and advertise them relentlessly.
The government decides how our cities are built, what developers are given permits to build. The government is already deeply involved in the lengthy process of determining what and when foods pass through your lips. These decisions may not be as obvious as bans on big gulp sodas, but in a way that makes them even more important because we’re not consciously aware of their impact on our lives. We live in an obesogenic environment. It’s currently far harder to be a healthy weight than is it be overweight or obese. This is not a matter of personal choice.
Banning large soda sales is a great step in the right direction. No one ever needs to have a pop as big as 16 oz, let along larger. Clearly we are unable to avoid the lure of “value” for our money. We need to government to step in and help us to help ourselves. As I said before, as long as we’re going to act like children we are in need of a so-called nanny state.