Jeff Bogle explains why mandated elimination will not change poor eating habits in the US.
I just ate a rich, buttery coffee cake from a convenience store. This food consumption decision was a mistake, and I knew it from the moment I grabbed the rectangular piece of wax paper required to airlift the crumbly breakfast treat out of its well-lit case. I will pay for this AM error in a couple of hours, if you know what I mean. Yet I wouldn’t want it any other way.
I applaud the noble intention behind Michael Bloomberg’s failed-for-now push to rid New York City of gigantic sodas. I successfully gave up soda three years ago, and my throat and digestive system continue to thank me. No one should ingest any of that swill, let alone 32 or 64 ounces of it at a time. But then again, no one should probably be eating Cheetos or Double Stuff Oreos either. That said; don’t argue that the mayor’s ambitious efforts aren’t good-natured. Wanting people to be healthier isn’t the work of an evil man. The problem is, Mayor Bloomberg’s focus is misplaced. It is not the movie theaters and food carts of Manhattan that need to fight obesity on our behalf. It is we, the fat idiots who continue lining up to throw down what the soft drink and snack food industry is selling us, who must take up the cause. We the informed people of the 21st century need to demand better of ourselves and of the food and drink marketplace.
With an internet connection in our pockets, we are seconds away from breaking news on uprisings in Mali, black smoke from the papal conclave, and knowing in real time which gas station along a route is offering the cheapest rate on unleaded fuel. Neither government nor industry should be charged with protecting adults living in the information age from damaging themselves with their poor food choices. There is simply no longer an excuse for not knowing what is inside the food and drinks we buy, devour, and provide to our families, because we are all two clicks away from the ugly truth behind the foods and beverages on our tables, and their impact on our bodies. Yet many of us still order 64 ounces of Pepsi and eat convenience store coffee cakes. And many more of us are not having the essential discussions about food, drinks, and nutrition with our children.
Let me be clear right here that my stance on this issue isn’t informed by a political party affiliation. I am a personal responsibility liberal, a fictional paradox party if ever there was one. And yes, it is often confusing being me.
Food education instead of mandated elimination is a potential option, albeit a more nebulous one that is admittedly difficult to quantify the success of. Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to assist his city in being less obese now and in the future might be better spent by finding new ways of informing residents about the short and long term impacts of their food consumption habits. For example, in my grade school health class, I saw images of what lungs looked like after years of cigarette smoking. The result: I’ve never smoked, not one single cig. Maybe if there was also slide on what my stomach and digestive system would look like after a lifetime of soda drinking or coffee cake munching, I’d have steered clear of those as well and I wouldn’t need to write TUMS on my weekly shopping lists.
The point is, we adults need to care more about what is in the food we eat, demand with our purchasing power less processed and artificial junk from the corporations providing us with that food, and make better food and drink choices for ourselves and our families every single day. And our kids need to learn from a young age to take care of themselves, by having good conversations with us, the informed adults in their life, and maybe sitting down for a 4th grade slideshow presentation with graphic images of our insides after years of neglect. Like cigarettes and me, that alone might positively impact some children for life.
To only limit the ounces of soda folks are permitted to have in a single serving will just have people making multiple trips to the snack counter, thus missing key parts of their movie. And the exercise involved with those extra steps won’t nearly counterbalance the empty calories consumed.
Feature Photo: lizasperling/Flickr