Bloomberg’s Big Sugary Drink Ban: What’s the Big Deal?
Anti-health rebelliousness is pervasive. Denny’s new Baconalia menu features a 1,000-calorie Bacon Maple Milk Shake. Burger King’s “secret menu” features a Suicide Burger. And another Heart Attack Grill spokesman just died from a heart attack in front of the restaurant he came to every day.
So the thumb-your-nose-at-health response to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed ban on supersized sugary drinks was not entirely a surprise. But the truth is that people rebelling against health advice are, in reality, being duped by the soda, meat, dairy, and other junk-food industries into believing they can eat whatever they want, whenever they want, without any consequences.
People who are fuming over Bloomberg’s semi-ban—sugary drinks less than 16 ounces aren’t banned—should know that it is meant to help. They should be flabbergasted that policymakers aren't trying to halt junk-food purveyors that sell cholesterol-laden dairy beverages, artery-clogging cheeseburgers, and cancer-inducing processed meats.
Just this month, a study found that people who consume the most red and processed meat are at higher risk for an early death. Eating even one hot dog per day can increase your risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent, yet Americans buy more than 700 million packages of hot dogs each year.
Another recent report found that if obesity rates continue on their current track, nearly 50 percent of American adults could be obese by 2030. Obesity could contribute to more than 6 million new cases of type 2 diabetes, 5 million new cases of coronary heart disease and stroke, and more than 400,000 new cases of cancer in the next two decades. The cost of treating preventable obesity-related diseases—now $210 billion a year—will increase by up to $66 billion per year by 2030.
While those who want to protect junk food—and not be protected from it—are making themselves heard, we as health professionals, parents, teachers, and consumers must make our voices louder and clearer. We must speak up against unhealthful, dangerous, and unethical practices—not lifesaving measures—so that one day they will be things of the past.