I wasn’t going to write about the new restrictions on extra-large sugary soft drink sales in New York City, and then MMJeff brought it up elsewhere, and so let’s thrash, shall we?
I don’t have strong feelings on it one way or another. The subject of obesity comes up from time to time here, and we’ve run through the usual reasons. The more I think about it, the more I look at photos from my youth and marvel at how few people, even among my parents’ friends, were seriously overweight — well, I don’t have any answers, just a few hunches. And I think portion size is a big part of it.
I think portion size is one of those insidious things. It creeps up a little at a time. We’re told to fill our plates, and we do — even though the plate is two inches bigger than the ones we grew up eating from. It’s bigger because kitchens are bigger, and kitchen tables are bigger, and everything is bigger because otherwise, what will motivate you to buy a new set of dishes? You need that stuff.
Anyway, as I’ve probably stated here a million times, I grew up drinking those little 6.5-ounce Cokes. Sometimes my mom would buy the 12-ounce six-packs, or the 16-ounce Pepsi six-packs. Returnable bottles. We had little plastic caps to reseal them. You never drank a whole bottle by yourself. A six-pack kept four of us happy for a week.
New York City is a small place, and even the millions who live there comprise only a fraction of the country’s population. But it’s the Temple Mount of our culture — almost everything starts there. I think Mayor Bloomberg knows this. I don’t think he’s doing this with any serious policy effect in mind; I think he’s just trying to start a conversation.
In 1979, I started my first newspaper job. I was in an seven-person department, and four of us smoked. A guy I walked by several times a day had an ashtray the size of a hubcap on his desk, and he filled that sucker up, every day. Alan and I went to New York 22 years later, when the city was the largest one in the country with a city-wide smoking ban. We saw the Mingus Big Band in a low-ceilinged, basement club, and left two hours later remarking on how nice it was to not be reeking of cigarettes. Michigan now bans smoking in nearly all public places. Who thinks this is a crazy intrusion of the nanny state now?
In my lifetime, we’ve vanquished cigarettes, or at least put them in full retreat. Bad food may be the next front in the war, and should be, given how disproportionately it
effects affects the poor, the young and the powerless.
Does banning gigantic sody-pops look like a solution? No. But it’s a conversation-starter. I’m willing to have it.
Good lord, this plague is persistent. Every time I think I’m out of it? IT PULLS ME BACK IN. So I have no bloggage today. Do you?