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No soda for you
May 31, 2012 6:47 AM   Subscribe

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed a ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts. Mr. Bloomberg’s proposal requires the approval of the Board of Health, a step that is considered likely because the members are all appointed by him, and the board’s chairman is the city’s health commissioner, who joined the mayor in supporting the measure on Wednesday.
posted by roomthreeseventeen (349 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing. We don't need a Big Gulp Mega Size Sugar Overload.

However, it doesn't stop people from refills.

America portions are just too big.
posted by stormpooper at 6:48 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Given that a majority of fast food restaurants now seem to offer unlimited refills and that McDonald's, for example, now sells all sizes of its sodas for $1.00, this seems like an entirely useless gesture. I.e., exactly the sort of thing we don't want our politicians to waste their time on.
posted by valkyryn at 6:48 AM on May 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


U.S. OUT OF MY BIG GULP!

(Seriously, Mike, I love you man, and the cigarettes thing is awesome, but this is a little crazy, no?)
posted by The Bellman at 6:52 AM on May 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Given that a majority of fast food restaurants now seem to offer unlimited refills

My memory of the portion size research articles that I've read (based on a researcher at Cornell, I think) is that dish size and serving size make a huge difference in how much people eat and drink. Even the shape of a dish (e.g., a tall and narrow glass vs a short and wide one) plays a significant role. So even with free refills, mandating smaller serving sizes may actually create large differences in how much people drink.

That said, I suspect you are right and that politician's involvement in this is perhaps not the best use of their time.
posted by Forktine at 6:53 AM on May 31, 2012 [12 favorites]


It limits how much you can take with you. Most people do not exactly hang out in fast food restaurants here. There isn't room, and they're unpleasant and noisy.

Anyhow, running empty and getting up for a refill requires you to choose, multiple times, to consume more. That's a lot different than just being handed a jug of soda to carry around with you for an hour or so.
posted by hermitosis at 6:54 AM on May 31, 2012 [20 favorites]


the cigarettes thing is awesome, but this is a little crazy, no?

As someone who likes the occasional cigarette, it's hard not to feel an intensely-pleasurable shiver of "What's Good For The Goose" about this new malarkey.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:55 AM on May 31, 2012 [53 favorites]


First, they came for the 20 oz. Wild Cherry Pepsi, and I said nothing.
posted by delfin at 6:55 AM on May 31, 2012 [40 favorites]


I think this is the researcher I am remembering, though there have been more recent articles.
posted by Forktine at 6:56 AM on May 31, 2012


Couldn't Bloomberg just have the existing law changed to let him institute the ban without anyone's approval?
posted by Trurl at 6:57 AM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


I wonder who or what is behind the fact that you can have a sweetened coffee of any size if you add an amount of milk slightly exceeding that of your desired sugary coffee.
posted by kengraham at 6:57 AM on May 31, 2012


Given that a majority of fast food restaurants now seem to offer unlimited refills

This has not been my experience in NYC. My friend used to frequent one particular KFC in the East Village because they offered free refills, unlike most other fast food restaurants in the city. Maybe things are different nowadays.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:58 AM on May 31, 2012


7-11 is aggressively expanding in NYC. I look forward to seeing a 16 oz. Big Gulp cup.
posted by Frank Grimes at 6:59 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wonder who or what is behind the fact that you can have a sweetened coffee of any size if you add an amount of milk slightly exceeding that of your desired sugary coffee.

Protip for Mike: Do not fuck with the Mouse Mermaid.
posted by The Bellman at 6:59 AM on May 31, 2012


You know, my Libertarian side is saying this is an abuse of power and waste of taxpayer funds. My Liberal side is saying that this just passes a law that prevents companies from taking advantage of people that are too stupid to know any better, who then place a tremendous drain on things like healthcare costs.

My Rational side just says that the restaurants will just now offer 74oz medium drinks, and then complain as to how the government is encroaching on the rights of the small business.
posted by Blue_Villain at 7:00 AM on May 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Who will be the Al Capone of the Big Gulp?

Seriously speaking, I don' t think this is a bad thing. The change in American habits regarding smoking over the last 50 years is nothing short of amazing, and it seems to me that a lot of it came about through the stick, not the carrot.

If we can get a majority of people off THE MOST ADDICTIVE SUBSTANCE ON EARTH through legislation, we might be able to get them off poisonous food, too. I regard large-size soda essentially as poison, especially when accompanied by the rest of the Western diet.
posted by Currer Belfry at 7:00 AM on May 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


for example, now sells all sizes of its sodas for $1.00, this seems like an entirely useless gesture. I.e., exactly the sort of thing we don't want our politicians to waste their time on.

Pportion sizes have a dramatic effect on how (PDF) we perceive food and eating.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 7:00 AM on May 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


I sometimes eat lunch at the Boston Police HQ cafeteria. Our mayor has banned the sale of sugar sodas in all city buildings. So you can't buy a Coke, but you can buy a diet coke, a giant chunk of chocolate cake, and a plate of meatloaf smothered in gravy that, as far as I can tell, is made out of used motor oil. But an adult can't buy a Coke. Keep in mind most of the adults who eat in that building carry guns and occasionally get shot at.

I hardly drink sodas, I generally think sodas are a horrible thing to put in your body (unlike bacon cheeseburgers, which I think are awesome) but bans like this piss me off. Adults should be able to choose what they want to eat or put into their bodies. Kids are different, so I can understand banning sodas in schools.

This isn't like a smoking ban where I'm forced to share the smoke from your cigarette whether I want to or not. Your soda doesn't really affect me much, other than the increased cost of health care, but there's a ton of things that go into that, not just soda.

Humans need to drink less soda, better yet no soda, and it would be a good day if the standard American beverage wasn't a 32oz cup of HFCS, but bans like this are silly.
posted by bondcliff at 7:00 AM on May 31, 2012 [57 favorites]


Given that a majority of fast food restaurants now seem to offer unlimited refills and that McDonald's, for example, now sells all sizes of its sodas for $1.00...

Not around here. I was eating fast food on an all-too-regular basis until very recently, and the only place I can recall that had free refills is Burger King.
posted by griphus at 7:01 AM on May 31, 2012


This doesn't do much to assess the real problem, namely that people cannot afford more wholesome calories and proteins. You can tax soda all you want, but it won't make rotisserie chicken and quinoa any cheaper. This new measure smacks of elitism and will only stir up more ire towards "liberals."

Action is needed on a national level to change food subsidies and make this stuff more expensive. Food is a national security issue, and the feds need to step up. Unfortunately, this won't happen unless people get politically organized. Bloomberg's move is useful for the purpose of stirring public debate, but not much else so far as I can tell.
posted by anewnadir at 7:02 AM on May 31, 2012 [11 favorites]


This isn't going to make New Yorkers less fat. This is going to make fat New Yorkers pay more for their drinks.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:02 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


My Rational side just says that the restaurants will just now offer 74oz medium drinks, and then complain as to how the government is encroaching on the rights of the small business.

All drinks over 16 oz. are banned, no matter whether they're called "large" or "medium" or "gulpzilla."
posted by hermitosis at 7:03 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Adults should be able to choose what they want to eat or put into their bodies.

I agree, up until the point that I am being asked to pay for half of them to go get their monthly diabetes checks.
posted by Blue_Villain at 7:04 AM on May 31, 2012 [13 favorites]


This is theater.
posted by activitystory at 7:06 AM on May 31, 2012 [11 favorites]


This isn't going to make New Yorkers less fat. This is going to make fat New Yorkers pay more for their drinks.

And if they have to pay more for their drinks, maybe they won't drink as much of them. Mind you, this proposed rule doesn't apply to sugarless or low-sugar drinks, so it encourages people to switch to healthier large drinks if they really want large drinks.

All drinks over 16 oz. are banned

All sugary drinks over 16 oz. are banned. You would still be able to get a sugarless bucket-sized drink.
posted by pracowity at 7:06 AM on May 31, 2012


THE MOST ADDICTIVE SUBSTANCE ON EARTH

You use this word. It does not mean what I think you think it means.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:06 AM on May 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


If you can't buy a soft drink of more than 500ml, you can always buy two.

Not a particularly smart use of government time, and not a great look for individual choice.
posted by Jehan at 7:08 AM on May 31, 2012


Not theater - it's a good start and a good move, calling bullshit on the idea of there being anything other than gluttonous stupidity behind the idea of walking around with that much soda on our way to Wall-E World. If nothing else it should make a dent in parents who are too stupid to stop buying Big Gulps as pacifiers for their kids. Now they just need to tax the shit out of it.
posted by docpops at 7:09 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


You would still be able to get a sugarless bucket-sized drink.

Even Rich Uncle Pennyberg doesn't dare mess with Big Ayran.
posted by griphus at 7:09 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Man, of all the things you could spend a ton of political capital on, why this? I would think some form of congestion pricing combined with more aggressive protection of cyclists and pedestrians would save more lives and piss off slightly fewer people.

Blue_Villain - I agree, up until the point that I am being asked to pay for half of them to go get their monthly diabetes checks.


So you agree, since certainly nowhere near half the population of NYC has diabetes?
posted by ghharr at 7:10 AM on May 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


I look forward to seeing a 16 oz. Big Gulp cup.

Atlantic Wire says 7-11 might be exempt, but doesn't say why that might be so.
posted by davidjmcgee at 7:10 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


My Liberal side is saying that this just passes a law that prevents companies from taking advantage of people that are too stupid to know any better,

I hope you meant this as a sarcastic definition of "liberal."

I thought "liberal" referred to liberty, which includes freedom to do dumb things. If the government gets to decide which behaviors are so dumb that you need to be protected from your own decisions, that doesn't resemble any definition of "liberty" or "liberal" that I would recognize.
posted by John Cohen at 7:11 AM on May 31, 2012 [11 favorites]


This will give taxpayers more value for their public healthcare dollar. We should also sell cigarettes in packs of 10.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:11 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


And if they have to pay more for their drinks, maybe they won't drink as much of them.

Riiiiiiiight. Because that model has TOTALLY worked with cigarettes.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:11 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am a passionate low-carber who thinks that sugary drinks are just about the worst thing you can do to yourself outside of (maybe) cigarettes or hard drugs, but even I am uncomfortable with this. I'd be fine with warning labels and maybe even a tax, but a ban?

Other thoughts:

1. The best possible outcome would be people starting to instinctively associate sugary drinks as being dangerous. Sugar has too often gotten a pass as all of the focus has been (completely erroneously, I might add) on dietary fat.

2. WTF is the reasoning behind excluding fruit juices? Anything natural is good for you? Talk about anti-scientific thinking.
posted by callmejay at 7:11 AM on May 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


20 -25 % of kids in NYC are obese. 50% of adults are overweight and/or obese. This is an easy call.
posted by docpops at 7:12 AM on May 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


This part on page two lays it out for me:

The Bloomberg administration had made previous, unsuccessful efforts to make soda consumption less appealing. The mayor supported a state tax on sodas, but the measure died in Albany, and he tried to restrict the use of food stamps to buy sodas, but the idea was rejected by federal regulators.

With the new proposal, City Hall is now trying to see how much it can accomplish without requiring outside approval. Mayoral aides say they are confident that they have the legal authority to restrict soda sales, based on the city’s jurisdiction over local eating establishments, the same oversight that allows for the health department’s letter-grade cleanliness rating system for restaurants.


Because I was thinking, Why ban them? Why not just do what you did with cigarettes and just tax the ever-lovin' blue-eyed crap out of them? But apparently that effort failed for some reason.

I still think an outright ban is stupid and probably very cost-prohibitive -- they'll probably lose more money going after people than they'll raise with any fees. If they really want this to happen, they should probably go after the tax again.
posted by Gator at 7:13 AM on May 31, 2012


And if they have to pay more for their drinks, maybe they won't drink as much of them.

Riiiiiiiight. Because that model has TOTALLY worked with cigarettes.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:11 AM on May 31 [+] [!]



From the American Lung Association website:
Every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces consumption by about 4 percent among adults and about 7 percent among youth.
posted by docpops at 7:14 AM on May 31, 2012 [56 favorites]


Riiiiiiiight. Because that model has TOTALLY worked with cigarettes.

It has.
posted by pracowity at 7:15 AM on May 31, 2012 [31 favorites]


There have been a lot of ads from the American Beverage Association in the subway the past month or two; I wondered what the deal was and now we know. They were gearing up for this.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:15 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


ghharr: " I would think some form of congestion pricing combined "

The congestion charge was reasonably popular in NYC, but was blocked by the state government. Bloomberg actually had all of the support that he needed (and then some) within the city itself. Political capital doesn't enter into that game, unless Bloomberg wants to run for governor.

Every NYC mayor for decades has expressed public outrage over Albany's use of the city as a tax siphon. (This was even more egregious back when NYC was seriously hurting)

I'm not sure that I like Mike's views on power, but his initiatives that have failed have almost always failed due to intervention by higher levels of government, not due to forces within his city.
posted by schmod at 7:15 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


As someone who likes the occasional cigarette, it's hard not to feel an intensely-pleasurable shiver of "What's Good For The Goose" about this new malarkey.
posted by Greg Nog


The important distinction between the two is that smoking directly impacts the quality of life of those around the smoker. I've never once been affected by someone with a giant soda. Although, I suppose they could spill it on me or something...
posted by blaneyphoto at 7:16 AM on May 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Can you still get a 40 in NYC?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:16 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Taxing is one thing, and a productive one. Laws with silly loopholes are another.
posted by activitystory at 7:17 AM on May 31, 2012


Bloomberg is the last person entitled to object to anyone wanting unlimited refills.
posted by Trurl at 7:17 AM on May 31, 2012 [12 favorites]


Gigantic margaritas are still okay.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:18 AM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


It seems to me like taxes and shifting the food subsidy system towards healthier foods is the way to go. I agree that large sodas are horrible (I'm also old enough to remember 16 oz. as the largest possible portion in convenience store or fast food place, and 12 oz. as the norm), but banning this one thing seems like cherry-picking and also an intrusion on people's freedom.
posted by freecellwizard at 7:19 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


7/11 would be exempt as a grocery/convenience store. As would Duane Reade.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:19 AM on May 31, 2012


I would like to see the Venn diagram of the following two groups:

1. People who think this is a good idea.
2. People who think that laws against marijuana are immoral.
posted by DWRoelands at 7:21 AM on May 31, 2012 [21 favorites]


I would like to see the Venn diagram of the following two groups:

1. People who think this is a good idea.
2. People who think that laws against marijuana are immoral.


I'd like to see that too, but I'd also like to see some sort of chart showing which of these things actually causes more harm to people.

I'm not in favor of either ban.
posted by bondcliff at 7:24 AM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Marijuana doesn't make your ass big.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:24 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Gothamist just reminded me this would affect my current drug of choice, frozen fruity drinks, like McDonald's Frozen Lemonade. BLOOMBERG WHY SO CRUEL WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY? A pregnant woman can only have so many vices, don't deny us.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:27 AM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


I do not think this ban is a good idea. It seems excessive. In fact, I'm not much in favor of bans of vices--I'd just prefer to see them taxed enough to offset their public health costs and offer services to encourage better eating choices. So why not a super-size sales tax or something?

Bans are crude, authoritarian instruments, and tend to feed into anti-state resentment except when there's overwhelming popular demand for them.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:30 AM on May 31, 2012


Bloomberg is the last person entitled to object to anyone wanting unlimited refills.

Under the new law, you only get one refill, but if you swear that this is ABSOLUTELY the last one, for REALS, then you can get one more
posted by Greg Nog at 7:30 AM on May 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


1. People who think this is a good idea.
2. People who think that laws against marijuana are immoral.


Laws against marijuana are against marijuana, not portion sizes of marijuana to be sold for immediate consumption.

Likewise, you're not supposed to serve alcohol to visibly drunk people. This is not equivalent to Prohibition.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:31 AM on May 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


Marijuana doesn't make your ass big.

Uh, Hello? Doritos?
posted by The Bellman at 7:32 AM on May 31, 2012 [9 favorites]


So vendors won't serve Cherry Coke to visibly fat people?

"I'm sorry, you've had enough. Looks like you reached Enough in 2004."
posted by delfin at 7:32 AM on May 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


for those of you wringing your hands about government interference: You do realize we as the government already subsidize high-fructose corn syrup and that's why it's so cheap to put into everything, right?

One other fun fact: At hospitals in new york some patients are so large that they had to be taken to the zoo for MRI's to be scanned.

In my opinion the subsidy should be stripped and companies should be pushed to remove sugar from sodas and other drinks. does anyone mind drinking Coke zero over coke?
posted by slapshot57 at 7:32 AM on May 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


From the American Lung Association website:
Every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces consumption by about 4 percent among adults and about 7 percent among youth.


From the CDC:
During 2005--2010, the proportion of daily smokers who smoked one to nine cigarettes per day increased from 16.4% to 21.8%.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:33 AM on May 31, 2012


If the idea is to internalize externalities (i.e. bring the costs of soda-drinking to the soda-drinkers), why not just institute a soda tax? Brings revenue into city coffers and discourages soda drinking at the margin, while allowing those that love their Big Gulps to continue loving them. Make it revenue-neutral if you want.

Seems like that's a much more flexible policy tool than just banning something.
posted by downing street memo at 7:34 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


During 2005--2010, the proportion of daily smokers who smoked one to nine cigarettes per day increased from 16.4% to 21.8%.

Are you talking about this? Because here's the whole excerpt:

"From 2005 to 2010, the proportion of smokers declined from 20.9% to 19.3% (p<0.05 for trend), representing approximately 3 million fewer smokers in 2010 than would have existed had prevalence not declined since 2005. The proportion of daily smokers who smoked one to nine cigarettes per day (CPD) increased from 16.4% to 21.8% during 2005--2010 (p<0.05 for trend), whereas the proportion who smoked ≥30 CPD decreased from 12.7% to 8.3% (p<0.05 for trend)."

As far as I understand, the reason that number increased is because people are smoking less than ever.
posted by griphus at 7:35 AM on May 31, 2012 [25 favorites]


I just. In theory I like the idea of stuff that could potentially make people healthier overall. But this kind of law feeds into the common (and stupid) prejudice that fat people are fat because they lack self control, which isn't particularly productive as an official policy.
posted by elizardbits at 7:35 AM on May 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


As an extremely minor politician, I have to say that I would not want to be the mayor known for cracking down on things that are fun and bad for you. This is a man on his way out of politics.

A pregnant woman can only have so many vices, don't deny us.

A little Mefi on the way? Congrats ThePinkSuperhero!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:36 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why is fruit juice exempt? Many fruit juices have the same amount of sugar as soda and studies link fruit juice and child obesity.
posted by notme at 7:36 AM on May 31, 2012 [9 favorites]


This isn't like a smoking ban where I'm forced to share the smoke from your cigarette whether I want to or not. Your soda doesn't really affect me much, other than the increased cost of health care, but there's a ton of things that go into that, not just soda.

I'm inclined to agree with this. The benefits of regulating the precise size of sodas seem pretty miniscule compared to the effort and costs of doing so.

(Anecdotally, a friend of mine's roommate in college was a habitual Big Gulp drinker. A bag of chips, a Big Gulp, and a porn VHS and he was good to go. To this day I can't think of a Big Gulp without also thinking of big '80s porn hair.)
posted by octobersurprise at 7:37 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Big Gulp will never allow this.
posted by cmoj at 7:38 AM on May 31, 2012 [9 favorites]


I've never once been affected by someone with a giant soda.

Do you pay taxes? Have they ever visited an ER with the intent of fixing a problem that should have been handled by an ambulatory physician on an outpatient basis?

If the answer to these two questions is "yes", then you've been affected by someone with a giant soda.
posted by Blue_Villain at 7:39 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hope you meant this as a sarcastic definition of "liberal."

You have no idea what words mean.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 7:40 AM on May 31, 2012


For those who haven't read through to page two, I repeat: Bloomberg TRIED to set up a tax before going the ban route, but Albany blocked it.
posted by Gator at 7:40 AM on May 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Over the winter, I spent a few weeks in Italy. By the end of my trip, I was really starting to crave some familiar food. As much as I loved all the pasta and cheese and pizza, my brain started to whisper quietly "FREEENNNNCHHH FRIIIESS". The little town we were in did have a McDonalds and because it was one of the only eateries open in the off hours of 1-5 pm, it was packed.

As I waded through the crowds, I checked out the menu and was greeted by some old favorites. To my delight and horror, Chicken McNuggets are the same everywhere, although in Italy the default combo size was six nuggets and the "medium" fries and Coke of my childhood. Which I think today is roughly a small or child size. It was awesome to finish my meal and drink and not feel obscenely bloated and also not have half a cup of beverage and almost a whole carton fries left behind.

Weeks ago, the random urge for McD's hit again and with the memory of Italy in mind I happily ordered a Chicken McNugget Combo. It came with 10 nuggets, a ginormous order of fries, and Coke bigger than my head. Appalled the entire time, I still ate it all and was miserable.

I would be delighted if all restaurants would offer smaller portions. Hell, I'd almost be cool with paying the same for just less on my plate. Cause not cleaning my plate is way harder than I ever thought it would be.
posted by teleri025 at 7:41 AM on May 31, 2012 [19 favorites]


I think it's probably a good idea not to drink a lot of soda for a variety of reasons, but the "Oh Em Gee the fatties are costing us soo much money" argument is an incredibly tired one given that not only does research show that lifestyle is a much better determination of overall health rather than body size, but that healthcare costs are not rising because of obesity.

In 2010, the Congressional Budget Office released a study on rising healthcare costs that determined, "...per capita spending on health care for adults would rise by 65 percent – from $4,550 in 2007 to $7500 in 2020 largely as a result of the continuation of underlying trends in health care that have led to rapidly increasing spending for all adults regardless of weight.” (emphasis added)

This handy chart illustrates my point-- it shows obesity -which is not a disease- and diseases correlated with obesity are included in the blue section. (source for two paragraphs above)

Regardless of how much or how little people being fast is costing society in general, having the government decide what is and isn't ok for adults to do with or put in their own damn bodies needs to just stop right now. Even if most of us can agree that drinking lots of soda is probably not a good idea, it is none of the governments damn business. Driving cars is far more dangerous than drinking soda, but we don't limit how much time people drive their cars because that would be ridiculous.
posted by Kimberly at 7:42 AM on May 31, 2012 [21 favorites]


I'm all for killing the corn subsidy, preferably with fire, or an axe, or a flaming axe, but legislating self-control is bad policy – easy to get around, unpopular and insulting (see elizardbits). A tax on the sugary crap would be better, but it's also depressing that it'd likely be easier to subsidize the production of corn and then put an extra tax on that very same corn farther down the production line, instead of just not subsidizing or taxing it and achieving roughly the same final price.

Fuck the farm lobby, and Bloomberg too.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:42 AM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


But this kind of law feeds into the common (and stupid) prejudice that fat people are fat because they lack self control, which isn't particularly productive as an official policy.
posted by elizardbits at 7:35 AM on May 31 [+] [!]


The typical person who is overweight is so for that exact reason, amongst others, chiefly education and knowledge, something this may actually move people toward if it serves to open up the discussion of where we get our empty and excess calories from. The reason Weight Watchers has risen to the top as a means to an end is that it rewards the development of self-control skillsets and slowly triggers behavior modification.
posted by docpops at 7:42 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, for the record, I quit smoking because I moved to a state where cigarettes were 5 bucks a pack.

So obviously I'm one of those people that benefits from the government telling me what to do.

I am deeply shamed.
posted by teleri025 at 7:43 AM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


From the CDC:
During 2005--2010, the proportion of daily smokers who smoked one to nine cigarettes per day increased from 16.4% to 21.8%.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:33 AM on May 31 [+] [!]


To claim this means increased cigarette taxes doesn't discourage smoking, you would need to control for other factors such as income.

Also, if that's the claim you're making, I'd read that statistic as suggesting there was a drop in heavy smoking rather than an uptake in smoking. I may be misunderstanding what you're saying, though.

Back on point: came here to say what downing street memo said. If policymakers think soda is bad for you when over consumed, why not tax it? Functionally, it achieves the same effect as the policy - people have to pay more to consume additional soda past 16 ounces - and could generate revenue for the city. My immediate thought when I read this was "okay, so someone will buy two 16 oz bottles of Coke instead of 1 32 ounce Big Gulp." On preview, looks like the state blocked NYC from going the tax route, which is pretty silly.

I suppose there might be evidence that the offered proportion change will affect behavior but that seems a little more speculative. I suppose you could have a graduated soda tax.
posted by dismas at 7:44 AM on May 31, 2012


My Liberal* side is saying that this

is futile because pouring all the blame for ill health onto one substance is short sighted at best.


*I have no other sides
posted by squeak at 7:44 AM on May 31, 2012


lifestyle is a much better determination of overall health rather than body size

Certainly body size is highly correlated with lifestyle.
posted by downing street memo at 7:45 AM on May 31, 2012


I agree with DowningStreetMemo. A tax makes more sense. Incidentally, I've heard from NY peeps that Albany has a habit of ruining everything politically. Is that true?

So obviously I'm one of those people that benefits from the government telling me what to do.

That's not the government telling you what to do. It's the government making sure the market isn't cheating by pushing its hidden costs off onto the public.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:47 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Kimberly - I'm not sure how or why you reached the conclusions you did. Obesity is most certainly a disease, despite what anyone tells you or writes in a blog. And conservative estimates of what we will spend just to deal with larger individuals in the healthcare system is something on the order of 300 billion by 2018. I'm not sure why this is difficult to wrap your head around. As for driving, many people see seatbelts as an affront to their personal liberties, and yet somehow we have managed to get to a point where it is largely agreed that they make sense.
posted by docpops at 7:47 AM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Coming soon to NYC: Buy one get one free sodas at your local fast food joint.
posted by COD at 7:50 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


The typical person who is overweight is so for that exact reason, amongst others, chiefly education and knowledge, something this may actually move people toward if it serves to open up the discussion of where we get our empty and excess calories from. The reason Weight Watchers has risen to the top as a means to an end is that it rewards the development of self-control skillsets and slowly triggers behavior modification.

You really need to start citing your sources, dude. Gathering obesity research is a hobby of mine and I haven't seen the study that shows that most people are fat due to self-control issues. I'd love to see it. I have seen research that says that dieting (like the techniques sold by Weight Watchers) actually makes people fatter, and speaking Weight Watchers it's a company that has been successfully sued for deceptive trade practices so often that they are required to give a disclaimer any time they suggest that their product might work.

No one actually knows how to make people thinner long term, and the diet industry has a vested interest in selling a false dream because they stop making money if people actually keep weight off. So yeah, I don't see how banning large sodas is going to even remotely going to do what you think it's going to do.
posted by Kimberly at 7:53 AM on May 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


The important distinction between the two is that smoking directly impacts the quality of life of those around the smoker.

It sure does. I don't want to smoke one myself but your cigarette smells fantastic! Your clothes on the other hand, after you've been forced off the sidewalks and into your home or car to smoke... my quality of life would be significantly improved if that stink was banned.

I'm having a difficult time getting worked up over a potential ban on giant sugary drinks, probably because I'm one of the people who used to drink Coke by the gallon without even thinking about it, but have quit sugary drinks altogether and have become significantly healthier for it, so I can see the benefit. I get the liberty and freedom arguments, and am generally sympathetic to them, but you'll still be able to drink as much sugary beverage as you want. It just won't be quite as easy to do it mindlessly. That's ok with me.

And yes, there are probably better approaches to the problem, but who is stepping up to make them happen?
posted by Balonious Assault at 7:53 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't drink soda, but adding a tax to it makes more sense than taking away an adults decision on what they want to put in their bodies.

How about also letting people get a large cup of water instead of a puney kids cup? I don't like soda and I will never drink it, so it's not like they are losing that much money from me when I want water instead of a soda.
posted by littlesq at 7:53 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


As far as I understand, the reason that number increased is because people are smoking less than ever.

Fine, but the price of cigarettes keeps going up, and yet the amount of decline in smoker percentage is slowing. Making things more expensive is not a magic bullet for making people not want to do things.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:53 AM on May 31, 2012


Marijuana doesn't make your ass big.

No, but those tacos you could really go for probably will.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:55 AM on May 31, 2012


Fruit juice is exempt because no one sells fruit juice in servings that size, anywhere.
posted by hermitosis at 7:55 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Obesity is absolutely not a disease. I can spend all day citing sources for that if I cared to, but here's one from the American Diabetes Association of all places. Again, I'd love to see a cite for your 300 billion dollars because of obesity number so we can see who said, who funded the study, and what the research actually says.
posted by Kimberly at 7:56 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


People who say that New Yorkers are going to get around this by buying multiple sodas are probably looking at this through the lens of a car culture lifestyle. Most people in NYC get around by walking, riding the bus, and taking the subway. We don't have cup holders. We carry everything we need for the day. You simply cannot get around the city without a free hand.

I don't know where I stand on this politically, but in NYC I think it will make a measurable difference.
posted by telegraph at 7:57 AM on May 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


Fruit juice is exempt because no one sells fruit juice in servings that size, anywhere.

Except anyplace that sells Nantucket Nectars?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:58 AM on May 31, 2012


Although it just occured to me if they do ban sodas people will just order a couple more small/medium sizes which would likely end up costing more than getting just one super size .
posted by littlesq at 7:58 AM on May 31, 2012


Can I sell an empty 72-oz cup and offer a 16-oz soda with up to 6 refills?
posted by tyllwin at 7:58 AM on May 31, 2012


Telegraph: I was thinking about bags. Granted that doesn't work for fountain drinks.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:59 AM on May 31, 2012


If policymakers think soda is bad for you when over consumed, why not tax it?

Perhaps if I sing this in a jaunty tune it will get noticed:

♪♫ They tried, they tried, they tried and tried and tried.
Tried tried tried,
Tried tried tried,
But Albany shot it doooooooooooown! ♫♪
posted by Gator at 8:00 AM on May 31, 2012 [15 favorites]


...here's one from the American Diabetes Association...

That's an op-ed from the "founder and director of the International SizeAcceptance Association," not a representative of the American Diabetes Association.
posted by griphus at 8:01 AM on May 31, 2012 [10 favorites]


Fruit juice is exempt because no one sells fruit juice in servings that size, anywhere.

Anybody want another pitcher of sangria?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:01 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's been a long time since a thread has stirred up a furious, old-style Dennis Leary rant about how this law and the underlying hate directed at other people due to their decisions about beverage choices, of all things, but it just isn't worth it. I'm not going to change your minds any more than you'll change mine. I'm just going to state that I'm against any law or regulation like this.
posted by chambers at 8:01 AM on May 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


Making things more expensive is not a magic bullet for making people not want to do things.

Bullets don't need to be magic to make people not want to do things, regular old lead works fine – as the statistic you just got caught lying with shows.
posted by nicwolff at 8:02 AM on May 31, 2012


But this kind of law feeds into the common (and stupid) prejudice that fat people are fat because they lack self control, which isn't particularly productive as an official policy.

We all lack self control to an extent, which is why portion size affects how much we eat. It's easier to say that you don't want a refill than to avoid, by default, drinking the entire cup.

Maybe this isn't the best public health initiative, but it at least is designed to change the actual factors when people make food choices. It's not telling people that they are bad for making the choices that are offered to them, which is the usual strategy.
posted by parudox at 8:03 AM on May 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't drink much soda (maybe 1-2 cans a week), and I really only get anything larger than 16oz when there is no other option (what size is the small at a movie theater?) but I am hugely opposed to these types of bans. What would be banned?

-a 20oz soda-- but only in some places
- a 32oz gatorade-- I agree that some people think electrolyte replacement drinks are necessary when they aren't, but after a 12 or 15 mile run in 80 degree weather, they're actually not a bad idea
- Getting a larger than 16-oz cup in a place that gives free refills-- even if you are just drinking water

What would not be banned?

- Giant milkshakes
- Giant frappuccinos
- Giant diet sodas, even though there is some conflicting research on whether 0-calorie sugar replacements are worse than the alternative.
- Giant fruit juices, even though they may have just as much sugar as the same size soda, and questionable nutritional content

I also think the message sent with this ban, that a 20oz soda is so dangerous that it's necessary to ban it, but alcohol, cigarettes, etc. just get you taxed is kind of ridiculous.
posted by matcha action at 8:03 AM on May 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


Humans need to drink less soda, better yet no soda, and it would be a good day if the standard American beverage wasn't a 32oz cup of HFCS, but bans like this are silly.

The first part of your sentence and the last part don't go together.

I mean, I'm not sure this ban will work, but it seems like a step in the right direction. What else can you do to prevent companies from offering huge portions that consumers will consume? People are affected by what's offered to them. The HFCS industry is really fucking up the health of our country. What to do?

I don't think bans like this are silly. I don't think they're the be-all/end-all, but they're maybe a decent start.

Maybe - we'll see.
posted by entropone at 8:08 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kimberly, I suppose this will be something we will have to agree to disagree on. In any case, it won't really matter. Obesity will continue to become more of a norm in our society, so in an absurd way it's rather amusing to consider it a harmless or neutral condition, if that's what makes you feel better about it. So I'll consider your words and from here on out when I see 15 people a day in my office whose weight has crept up from 180 to over 250 over a decade I'll treat it as completely normal, harmless, and above all else will not think for a second that it could possible have a deleterious effect on their lifespan or quality of life. Because clearly that's just prejudicial.
posted by docpops at 8:08 AM on May 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


Obesity is absolutely not a disease.

I'm really glad you're providing links... but please keep in mind that those are billing definitions of disease, not real world ones.

The ICD9 code for Obesity is 278.00. Most insurance companies don't reimburse tests tied to that code, but they will reimburse for procedures/labs/etc. tied to something like 250.00, which is diabetes. Most docs won't even waste their time listing 278.00 on a chart, but they will show up on a BMI scale, which aren't counted in the studies you've linked so far.
posted by Blue_Villain at 8:09 AM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Marijuana doesn't make your ass big.

No, but it makes your hands, like, huge, man.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:11 AM on May 31, 2012 [12 favorites]


will only stir up more ire towards "liberals."

Well, Bloomberg is a Republican, so there's that.
posted by spicynuts at 8:12 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


My guess it is is another revenue generating idea by Bloomberg.. A tax would fall disproportionally on poorer people and be unfair, would be my guess.. A ban will generate revenue from the restaurants via fines. Not to mention more jobs for the army of inspectors Bloomberg has created to enforce the ever increasing amount of things you can get fined for.

And then there will be more work for the new category of managerial workers who cure code violations and negotiate fines with the city for businesses.
posted by snaparapans at 8:12 AM on May 31, 2012


Semi-relatedly, why doesn't the federal government tax soda specifically to pay for farm subsidies for corn? That way, they could do something to address the Crisis of Epic Proportions with plausible deniability about being a nanny state -- we're just doing it to reduce how much of your income tax goes to farm subsidies, Mr. Tea Partier, not to abridge your freedom to drink whatever is advertised to you most effectively -- and at least sort of throwing the same stone at two birds, even if it doesn't kill them.

Similarly, maybe NYC could impose a soda fee (on a city level, like a parking ticket, since the state won't go for a tax) and (partially) compensate by lowering some other type of tax/fee in such a way that the total revenue is increased slightly, but people can be told that their soda fee is actually being used to make the soda-drinkers fund something that used to be paid for out of everyone's pocket.

Also, isn't diet soda pretty much as unhealthy as the real McCoy, although for different reasons? Why doesn't Mr. Bloomberg just drink tap water on a hot day?
posted by kengraham at 8:13 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


The first part of your sentence and the last part don't go together.

Only if you assume that legislating the limits of consumption is a morally and precedentially acceptable choice. By the same token it would be a good day if I didn't have to wake up at the ass-crack of dawn to go to work, but that doesn't mean I support a ban on jobs that start before 9 a.m.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:14 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Except anyplace that sells Nantucket Nectars?

Where have you seen a Nantucket Nectars larger than 16 oz? Other than, say, a grocery store?
posted by hermitosis at 8:14 AM on May 31, 2012


Everywhere that sells the things. The standard bottle is 17.5 ounces.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:15 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree, up until the point that I am being asked to pay for half of them to go get their monthly diabetes checks.

OTOH, this starts to sound like a good reason to make you pay for your own damn diabetes tests.

There is a strange impulse among some liberals to get thrifty with public money on the backs of fat people.
posted by 2N2222 at 8:16 AM on May 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Nothing is stopping you from ordering two 12 oz sodas. Just saying. I remember once being in one state that banned doubles in mixed drinks, but the waitress offered to bring a jack and coke with an extra shot.

I'd like to think of this as saying not that you may not drink a double portion of soda, but that you may as long as you know you're doing it. That's not exactly a bad thing, even if the government playing nanny over sugar water is silly. Maybe over the long term society will change so that standardized portion sizes in public restaurants become the new normal.
posted by cotterpin at 8:17 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


- Giant milkshakes
- Giant frappuccinos
- Giant diet sodas, even though there is some conflicting research on whether 0-calorie sugar replacements are worse than the alternative.
- Giant fruit juices, even though they may have just as much sugar as the same size soda, and questionable nutritional content


Again, it's hard to find milkshakes etc. over 16 oz. as it is -- they're more expensive to produce than fountain drinks, so there's not as much incentive to giving away more than necessary.

Same with (real) fruit juices don't come in giant sizes anywhere except the grocery store, where you'll also still be able to buy 2 liter bottles of soda.
posted by hermitosis at 8:17 AM on May 31, 2012


My Liberal side is saying that this just passes a law that prevents companies from taking advantage of people that are too stupid to know any better, who then place a tremendous drain on things like healthcare costs.

Is "people who are too stupid to know any better" how you refer to people choosing differently than you?

-----

Not theater - it's a good start and a good move, calling bullshit on the idea of there being anything other than gluttonous stupidity behind the idea of walking around with that much soda on our way to Wall-E World. If nothing else it should make a dent in parents who are too stupid to stop buying Big Gulps as pacifiers for their kids. Now they just need to tax the shit out of it.

Good idea. It can join the taxes on cigarettes and the lottery as one more tax on the poor.
posted by BigSky at 8:18 AM on May 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


Everywhere that sells the things. The standard bottle is 17.5 ounces.

But grocery & convenience stores would be exempt, and where else would they be sold?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:18 AM on May 31, 2012


Will this proposal limit the size of a beer? Or just the root beer?
posted by Danila at 8:18 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I support this, heck label em' like cigarets too.

There is however a more fundamental problem that our nation's poison venders actively work to obstruct or control the healthy options, like Coca-Cola's lobbyists tearing down our water fountain laws.

We should probably require that (a) all eating and drinking establishments offer free water in the largest volume container they sell anything caloric in, (b) all building offer functioning water fountains, or supply both potable drinking water from the sink and drinking cups, and (c) well maintained public drinking fountains exist wherever street venders are lessened to operate.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:19 AM on May 31, 2012 [16 favorites]


.
posted by caclwmr4 at 8:22 AM on May 31, 2012


a 20oz soda is so dangerous that it's necessary to ban it, but alcohol, cigarettes, etc. just get you taxed is kind of ridiculous.

They tried to tax it, but the beverage lobby shot it down. So now NYC is taking the next step. I agree a tax would be better, but since the HFCS-pushers wanted to go double-or-nothing with the mayor's office, I see no reason why their bluff shouldn't be called.

Putting some sort of tax on sugary beverages and then using the tax revenue to fund public health programs -- ideally, setting the tax to some rate that's linked to the cost the public bears as a result of the beverages themselves -- would certainly make sense. But it's clearly one of those situations where the perfect is the enemy of not just the good, but even the merely-adequate-and-slightly-improved.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:22 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


But grocery & convenience stores would be exempt, and where else would they be sold?

Places that sell bottled drinks. I've never lived in NYC so maybe you play by different rules, but in Philly and DC I see food carts selling bottled soda and juice all the time, and lots of pizza-joint level restaurants let you pick a bottled drink out of a fridge as an alternative to using soda fountains.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:22 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I were a vendor affected by this ban, I would just design and offer a cup that is evenly segmented vertically, so that it could be joined with another cup and held together by a sleeve, and sold as two drinks. Maybe have a special Y-shaped straw available for the customers if they wanted.
posted by chambers at 8:22 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


people choosing differently than you?

Would you prefer Cognitive Dissonance? Stupid has less letters is more universally understood.
posted by Blue_Villain at 8:23 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


The first part of your sentence and the last part don't go together.

I mean, I'm not sure this ban will work, but it seems like a step in the right direction.


Certainly sitting on your couch watching reality TV all day on a Saturday is as much of a health problem as drinking large sodas. It would be a great day if people stopped doing that but I don't think we should outlaw it.
posted by bondcliff at 8:23 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm fairly sure New Yorkers would love two cups joined by a diagonal bar to resemble an N that sold together with a Y straw for drinking it anyways, chambers.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:25 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


The FDA ruled that high fructose corn syrup isn't sugar, so this ban won't have any effect, will it?
posted by b1tr0t at 8:25 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


People are really overreacting here. You can still buy as much soda as you ever could, it's just ever-so-slightly more inconvenient, hopefully giving people a second to think "maybe I don't need 32oz of MTNDEW before noon."

This is another project started in NYC that will eventually be the norm in other cities. The Bloomberg administration previously: banned smoking in public, banned transfats in restaurants, required health inspections with visible letter grades, make chain restaurants advertise calories next to the price of items, has made food stamps easier to use by giving away readers to farmers' markets, extremely high taxes on tabacco, etc. etc. All programs that other cities have since adopted.
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:26 AM on May 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Whats that you say? I used to be big? I *am* big. It's the *sodas* that got small.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:27 AM on May 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


Places that sell bottled drinks. I've never lived in NYC so maybe you play by different rules, but in Philly and DC I see food carts selling bottled soda and juice all the time, and lots of pizza-joint level restaurants let you pick a bottled drink out of a fridge as an alternative to using soda fountains.

Right, but that also -- wait for it -- *places limits* on the amount of beverage that you can buy per container. So asking fountain drink joints to conform to this law basically puts them on par with these other little places, where if you want more than just the already-generous 16 oz. serving (or, okay, 17.5), you have to buy two.

Some people may go ahead and do just that... but most people probably won't.
posted by hermitosis at 8:27 AM on May 31, 2012


I'm generally not a hardcore "Government out of my business!"-type, but this feels like a pretty severe boundary crossing to me.

Worse, the gesture seems entirely symbolic. There are any number of items sold at fast food chains, movie theater concession stands and street carts that if consumed with any regularity will likely shorten your life and cause immense health problems along the way. Banning the sale of jumbo sodas, but allowing the sale of Double Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburgers, 20-piece Chicken McNuggets, monster size packages of M&M's (seriously, have you seen the candy sizes at movie theaters?), etc., doesn't really seem to stand the test of logic.
posted by The Gooch at 8:27 AM on May 31, 2012


I just replaced all my daily soda consumption with beer, I'm not any thinner but I am a lot happier.
posted by The Whelk at 8:28 AM on May 31, 2012 [11 favorites]


logic

Ha, logic!
posted by borges at 8:29 AM on May 31, 2012


So it needs to be all or nothing, The Gooch? We can't experiment with incremental changes to see what helps and what doesn't?
posted by hermitosis at 8:29 AM on May 31, 2012


Okay, now I don't follow, hermitosis. Somebody said nobody sells fruit juice in containers large enough to be affected by the ban even if they weren't specifically exempted, and that was incorrect. I'm not arguing for the inherent moral goodness of sugar water in a bottle.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:29 AM on May 31, 2012


I'm a staunch believer in the need and the inherent right for the government to get all up in our business sometimes (emphasis on "business" there), but a ban like this in particular isn't the way to do it, IMO, It's not worth losing sleep over either way though, is it?
posted by saulgoodman at 8:30 AM on May 31, 2012


Would you prefer Cognitive Dissonance? Stupid has less letters is more universally understood.

I would prefer more respect for the decisions of others, and much less presumption that you should have the (self-appointed?) right to dictate others' dietary choices.
posted by BigSky at 8:33 AM on May 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


Everyone really wants to assume that people drink so much soda Because They Want To, and that by God, if you make it a little bit more difficult or expensive to drink soda in large quantities, then people will just be paying more and/or having a harder time. Which is such bullshit. We don't know exactly what we want, and we don't spend our time or mental effort figuring out what our food and drink preferences are. We let a lot of those things be guided by what is available -- at the grocery store or at restaurants.

Someone else makes the decisions about what choices are available to us out there. In lieu of any input from public health, those choices are made by marketing departments and are aimed at getting us to consume more and spend more. It's naive to believe that we have infinite resources to make perfect decisions about what exactly we want to buy and consume, and what is best for our health and happiness. With so much information and products available, it is not possible or reasonable. Currently we're giving virtually all of the default decision-making over to what's best for corporations. Is it so unreasonable that there be some public health oversight of what choices are available?
posted by parudox at 8:33 AM on May 31, 2012 [22 favorites]


I'm frankly surprised Metafilter has so many fans of authoritarian government.
posted by rocket88 at 8:33 AM on May 31, 2012 [10 favorites]


Okay, now I don't follow, hermitosis. Somebody said nobody sells fruit juice in containers large enough to be affected by the ban even if they weren't specifically exempted, and that was incorrect.

It's certainly not sold in huge cups anywhere, the way soda is -- that was my point. Anyhow, the article says:

"the sale of any cup or bottle of sweetened drink larger than 16 fluid ounces"

So, the Nantucket Nectars (17.5 oz) actually WOULD be affected, so the point is moot.
posted by hermitosis at 8:34 AM on May 31, 2012


I'm frankly surprised Metafilter has so many fans of authoritarian government.

I think advertising and marketing should be regulated like any other major industry, and as parudox points out, this is a marketing issue more than anything else.
posted by hermitosis at 8:35 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm frankly surprised Metafilter has so many fans of authoritarian government.

If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's whatever the government says we should be agreeing on.
posted by griphus at 8:36 AM on May 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Regarding fruit juices - there is a chain called Jamba Juice that is quite popular in NYC. The beverage sizes are as follows:

16 - 16 ounces
Original - 24 ounces
Power - 30 ounces

Hard to understand why that would be exempt.
posted by borges at 8:36 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe instead of banning large sizes, he should try to get the contents of the drinks a bit healthier.
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:37 AM on May 31, 2012


Currently we're giving virtually all of the default decision-making over to what's best for corporations.

Doesn't handing that default decision making over to the government seem to leapfrog a very important party in the decision making process here?
posted by 2N2222 at 8:39 AM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Would Jamba Juice definitely be exempt? A lot of their juice smoothies contain ice cream.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:39 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, the Nantucket Nectars (17.5 oz) actually WOULD be affected, so the point is moot.

It also says "The measure would not apply to diet sodas, fruit juices, dairy-based drinks like milkshakes, or alcoholic beverages."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:40 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Certainly sitting on your couch watching reality TV all day on a Saturday is as much of a health problem as drinking large sodas

I suspect it's not. Sitting on your couch all day doesn't get you any exercise, so there's admittedly an opportunity cost, but drinking a 32-oz Coke once a day (while out to lunch, say), five days a week, nets you 1550 calories. Setting aside any of the other health issues that may or may not be linked to HFCS/simple-sugar consumption and just looking for a moment at the sheer number of calories involved, most people would be hard pressed to do or not do anything with their Saturday that's as significant as that large soda with lunch during the week.

Also, we have the means to cut down on soda consumption via relatively straightforward regulation, taking advantage of the existing framework for regulating food-service establishments. We obviously can't encourage exercise the same way, regardless of its benefits, so it's a moot point. Encouraging a relatively small change in everyday habits, like only drinking 12 or 16 ounces of soda instead of 32 or 40, is pretty obvious low-hanging fruit.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:42 AM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Maybe instead of banning large sizes, he should try to get the contents of the drinks a bit healthier.

How would he, as NYC mayor, have any jurisdiction over that?

Regarding fruit juices - there is a chain called Jamba Juice

I'm curious to see how/whether they're affected. The smoothies have a high sugar content, but most of them are made of a blend of whole fruit, ice cream, soymilk, and fruit juice. It's not exactly a "beverage" in the same way, and it's certainly not "juice."
posted by hermitosis at 8:42 AM on May 31, 2012


So are you guys all fans of the idea that the government should forcibly prevent all of your potentially stupid choices? Or will we say that slippery slope is fallacy, as was the cry when it was cigarettes?
posted by tyllwin at 8:43 AM on May 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Since the law exempts both fruit juice and dairy-based beverages, I can't see how they could possibly be covered.

How would he, as NYC mayor, have any jurisdiction over that?

The same way he has jurisdiction over their size, whatever that is. If the city can ban certain kinds of fats, why not certain kinds of sugars?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:43 AM on May 31, 2012


There's already a mechanism for charging unhealthy people more money for the amount of burden they place on our health care system: it's called an insurance premium.

Of course, once the government starts paying for your health care, then they have a built in excuse to limit your freedom by regulating all kinds of human behavior. So you might think "so what? sugar is bad for you." Well, imagine Alabama or Mississippi banning anal sex because they have a flimsy rationale that anal sex drives up health care costs, or a host of other government officials banning all sorts of things because of "public health costs."
posted by gyc at 8:48 AM on May 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


This wretched little piece of advertising shit was filmed on my block, and because of the magic of editing, you can't hear the sound of me noisily working on my scooter that afternoon, complete with accidental beeping of the horn in take after take. It was filmed in the driveway of a retired fireman and local Republican activist across the street, in a place where all those "foreclosed" and "out of business" signs were fakes tacked on by the filmmakers because Laurel, Maryland is a spook town that sailed right through the last crash pretty much untouched.

Was in a mood that day because the leadership in my city had signed off on the filming a right-wing corporate propaganda ad without the least clue about how people in, say, Los Angeles, do a location shoot (i.e. give advance notice, pay people for being inconvenienced, and otherwise act like fucking professionals). Even better, though, I was especially riled that the selfsame people in my neighborhood who say "well, Joe, we don't think it's right for gay people to be persecuted, but we just believe marriage is a thing intended for one man and one woman" were all up in arms about what they called "legislating morality."

The cognitive dissonance in this country is so jarring these days that I don't know how people concentrate with all the neurons impoding in their heads...except that maybe they've already lost that battle and are just humming along, content to live in opposite day forever and ever.

Do we really need legislation to convince people that they're not flies or honeybees?

Sadly, it seems like we do—for now, at least.

Sigh.
posted by sonascope at 8:48 AM on May 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


If the city can ban certain kinds of fats, why not certain kinds of sugars?

Because banning, say, HFCS, would be a HUGE authoritarian gesture affecting thousands of national brands and corporations, and millions of local businesses, and it would never get off the ground.

So are you guys all fans of the idea that the government should forcibly prevent all of your potentially stupid choices?

So are you of the idea that unregulated multi-billion-dollar industries should be able to provide unrestrained access to easily abused products while promoting them as perfectly safe and extremely enjoyable?
posted by hermitosis at 8:49 AM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


How about this - first, you require all beverages to be consumed when bought. So if you get a 72oz GorboGulp, you have to finish it, no matter how warm, flat, and backwashy that last 8oz gets.

Second, for every oz above 16, there is a 1% chance that the beverage will be replaced by mashed potatoes. That you still have to finish all of.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:49 AM on May 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


This wretched little piece of advertising shit was filmed on my block

Please tell me you stole Scoldy Mom's car after she left the hatchback open.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:52 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm bemused that vitamin water isn't regulated given that vitamin water is simply sugar water plus flavoring.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:52 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait do people actually finish those Large soda sizes? I like to get a jug of cherry coke at the movies and I can never get past a quarter of the damn thing.
posted by The Whelk at 8:54 AM on May 31, 2012


"Second, for every oz above 16, there is a 1% chance that the beverage will be replaced by mashed potatoes. That you still have to finish all of."

I'll take a Big Gulp of mashed 'taters & garlic, please, with extra buttah... for a buck! Woohoo!
posted by JB71 at 8:54 AM on May 31, 2012


Please tell me you stole Scoldy Mom's car after she left the hatchback open.

No, but I did strap on my professional-looking field recorder and big headphones long enough to raid the hell of the craft services table before they figured out that I was the asshole who decided to install an air horn on his scooter during their shoot and not another unit sound guy.

Amusingly enough, there was no soda available.
posted by sonascope at 8:56 AM on May 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


There's already a mechanism for charging unhealthy people more money for the amount of burden they place on our health care system: it's called an insurance premium.

Rather than charging people ungodly amounts of money (and, frequently, bankrupting them) to fix preventable health problems, any reasonable society should really be trying to prevent those problems in the first place. Unfortunately we live in a down-trodden and callous society, one that has been taught to enjoy pointing fingers and blaming others (and themselves) for their ill fate. It's pretty depressing.
posted by parudox at 8:56 AM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Some do, some don't.

What I'm amazed at are the skinny people who get the humongo tubs of popcorn, load 'em up with salt and 'butter' - and then go back for a free refill.
posted by JB71 at 8:57 AM on May 31, 2012


If your freedom to consume unhealthy products is ultimately leading to higher health insurance rates for my healthy eating family...damn right I want government policing your diet.
posted by incandissonance at 8:57 AM on May 31, 2012


And by declaring that they are, in fact, helpless pawns of corporations who have no free will in the face of a 64-ounce cup and need government to tell them what choices they're allowed to make, that helps them not blame others for their problems?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:57 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


When smoking in bars was banned, I just became a militant outside smoker. When the cost of cigarettes went up, up and away, I tried briefly to quit, but eventually just became a person who spent a larger percentage of her income on cigarettes. At this point, because cigarettes are twelve to thirteen dollars a pack, I spend a very large chunk of my income on smokes. It's not good, and I don't like it, but it is what it is.

And the resentment that kicks in whenever Bloomberg tries a new strategy (oh, you like parks? No smoking in them!) keeps me puffing away. It's like the man has never heard of reverse psychology. Nobody takes up smoking because they think it's healthy. It's a form of rebellion, and the more you "punish" smokers, the more they cling to their nicotine.

I drink a lot of soda. It's shameful, and I'm fatter than I was ten years ago. Almost all of my weight gain, though, is a direct result of medications I have to take nowadays.

One of the things I've begun doing since I started gaining crazy weight is buying a bottle of juice and a bottle of seltzer. I mix my juice/seltzer drinks the way a stingy bartender would mix cocktails: barely a shot of juice, then filled up the rest of the way with seltzer. The drinks aren't nearly as sweet, but they're almost as satisfying. This is a decision I made for me, on my own, without Bloomberg butting in.

Thing is, if you told me I couldn't have Coca-Cola, I'd just want it more, the same way I want cigarettes more now that they're more verboten. If you said I couldn't have a giant Mountain Dew at the movies, I'd kick you in the teeth. (What is a movie if you don't have to get up in the middle to pee?)

If you ask me, any efforts the city makes at getting people to consume less sugar should be geared toward education and increasing the availability of alternatives. Give me more choices, and maybe I'll be less likely to choose the bad thing. But tell me that the bad thing is bad, and that I'm bad for choosing it, and not only that, I can't have it at the movies because it's so bad and I'm so stupid I'll choose it even though it's bad? I'll likely respond by telling you to fuck off.

Which is exactly what I want to say to Bloomberg.
posted by brina at 8:58 AM on May 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


Do you pay taxes? Have they ever visited an ER with the intent of fixing a problem that should have been handled by an ambulatory physician on an outpatient basis?

If the answer to these two questions is "yes", then you've been affected by someone with a giant soda.


So because my tax dollars are spent it is directly affecting me? You do realize that virtually every activity someone does has been influenced in some way by taxes. And for the record, I pay taxes.

People who have allergies to various foods wind up in the ER, should we ban or limit wheat, egg, shellfish, dairy, nuts, peanuts, etc.? People have sex and get STDs and some go to the ER, should we limit or license people getting laid? Some of those will have kids! My taxes are going to those little bastard offspring. Ban children! Or at least limit the number people can have. People going in to water directly correlates to people drowning, so lets close the swimming pools, too. Driving causes car wrecks, requires police, costs tax money. Marriages cause divorce, create court costs, costs tax money. Freedom of speech results in very expensive protests.

All of these things affect the glorious thousands I pay in tax every year. The difference is that I don't pull out the Tea Party line and actually try to bitch about my precious tax dollars going to any of these things. Obesity is a public health issue, soda is a part of it. But your argument is ridiculous.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 9:00 AM on May 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


What I like about what Bloomberg is doing is not so much the idea of an actual ban, but that it's forcing discussion on this public health issue. And obesity, of which empty calorie soft drinks are big if not biggest part of the cause, is a HUGE public health issue (no pun intended).

I take my kids to the YMCA pool, and I absolutely can't believe what I'm seeing in terms of childhood obesity. It's easily more than 50% of the kids at the pool. And these are the kids that are actually doing some form of exercise!

A ban is not the right approach, but changing consumption behavior is something our entire society would benefit from. What is the right approach? I'd agree with the folks from the HBO "Weight of the Nation" people, who say the way to change things is to make good and healthy foods cheap through government subsidy, which in turn is paid for by a very large tax on unhealthy foods, like soft drinks and fast food. This would be effective, and it is already demonstrated that a large tax on cigarettes has a very large effect on consumption rates.

I'm sure this method of curbing consumption would also make all the Libertarians seethe with "government out of our lives" anger, but if you stop and look at what's happening to our population, it's clear we are incapable of helping ourselves with our collective "personal choices". It costs me and everyone else in our society money through a ridiculously over-burdened health care system, dealing with the after effects of these poor choices.

So, ban be damned, but at least Bloomberg is making people talk about a public health issue.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:00 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


We don't know exactly what we want, and we don't spend our time or mental effort figuring out what our food and drink preferences are. We let a lot of those things be guided by what is available -- at the grocery store or at restaurants.

Someone else makes the decisions about what choices are available to us out there. In lieu of any input from public health, those choices are made by marketing departments and are aimed at getting us to consume more and spend more. It's naive to believe that we have infinite resources to make perfect decisions about what exactly we want to buy and consume, and what is best for our health and happiness. With so much information and products available, it is not possible or reasonable. Currently we're giving virtually all of the default decision-making over to what's best for corporations. Is it so unreasonable that there be some public health oversight of what choices are available?


That's quite the victim mentality.

And how do the evil corporations make their choices about what to make available? Aren't they constrained in their decisions by what the market will buy at a given price?

Everyone's choices are limited by the conscious and unconscious decisions of others. This portrayal of the corporations making the "default decisions" about the choices available to us, makes it sound as though it's some sort of special case. It isn't that's the reality of all our choices. We may not have the "infinite resources to make perfect decisions" but again, that's standard. This isn't unique to dietary choices.

Even if you have n number of studies backing your position, choosing to assume that adult citizens are incapable of making decisions in their own best interest is remarkably condescending and authoritarian.
posted by BigSky at 9:05 AM on May 31, 2012


Is anyone OK with Bloomberg, say, banning sales of video games because they contribute to an unhealthy sedentary lifestyle?
posted by rocket88 at 9:06 AM on May 31, 2012


Would you prefer Cognitive Dissonance? Stupid has less letters is more universally understood.

Fewer letters, smart ass.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 9:06 AM on May 31, 2012 [12 favorites]


So it needs to be all or nothing, The Gooch? We can't experiment with incremental changes to see what helps and what doesn't?

Honestly, when I read the article I was reminded of that cliche joke about the person going to a fast food place, ordering the double cheeseburger, large fries, apple pie and Diet Coke. Again, the gesture just seems entirely symbolic to me, considering soda is just one of the many items sold of these kind of establishments that aren't exactly going to prolong your life. Banning a specific size of drink seems like an odd place to draw a line in the sand (assuming you are ok with a line being drawn at all, which I'm not entirely convinced of).
posted by The Gooch at 9:06 AM on May 31, 2012


This move (and subsequent grarring) could be good for Republicans in this election year.
posted by O Blitiri at 9:09 AM on May 31, 2012


Coming soon to NYC...
posted by BobbyVan at 9:09 AM on May 31, 2012


If you drink a lot of diet pop, you get to the point where you don't even like the taste of "regular". That stuff seems so thick to me now.
Also, isn't diet soda pretty much as unhealthy as the real McCoy, although for different reasons? Why doesn't Mr. Bloomberg just drink tap water on a hot day?
No.
Marijuana doesn't make your ass big.
It definitely increases your appetite.
posted by delmoi at 9:10 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


This makes me sad, mostly because I love ice. I discovered in college that a 32 ounce container completely filled with ice, then tapped down again, filled mostly with soda, and then tapped down again only equaled about 8-12 ounces of actual soda, allowing for delicious ice crunching later.

But the ice is pretty terrible for my teeth as well, so you know what, this is fine with me.
posted by raccoon409 at 9:11 AM on May 31, 2012


Give me more choices, and maybe I'll be less likely to choose the bad thing.

How could you possibly have more drink choices? You can get a million kinds of everything in a million sizes.

This guy just wants you to be less likely to make the most common bad choice, which is to fill way up on super sugary drinks. If they gave you your giant soda pop with the sugar on the side instead of premixed, you would be appalled at how much sugar you have to stir into it to make it as sugary as usual.
posted by pracowity at 9:14 AM on May 31, 2012


This move (and subsequent grarring) could be good for Republicans in this election year.

Regardless of anyone's position on this issue, isn't that the sort of spineless mentality that keeps many Liberals coasting onward year after year, never making any real changes or taking any real risks?

And again, Bloomberg isn't a Democrat.
posted by hermitosis at 9:14 AM on May 31, 2012


If they gave you your giant soda pop with the sugar on the side instead of premixed, you would be appalled at how much sugar you have to stir into it to make it as sugary as usual.

I actually love this idea.
posted by hermitosis at 9:16 AM on May 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Regardless of anyone's position on this issue, isn't that the sort of spineless mentality that keeps many Liberals coasting onward year after year, never making any real changes or taking any real risks?

And again, Bloomberg isn't a Democrat.

An observation is a mentality? And I didn't say he was a Dem. Things bad for one R can still be good for other Rs. But thanks for all your knee-jerk presumptions.
posted by O Blitiri at 9:17 AM on May 31, 2012


thanks for all your knee-jerk presumptions

Um, they weren't free. You can PayPal me using the email address in my profile.
posted by hermitosis at 9:19 AM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


In Quebec: people are taking to the streets to protest a law that severely curtains freedom of assembly. Rhetoric is rampant but mainly reasonable; protests are 99.9% nonviolent.

In New York: a proposal to limit how much soda you can cram in your gullet in a single serving is heralded as the death of freedom and the introduction of an Orwellian nightmare state.
posted by Shepherd at 9:20 AM on May 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm frankly surprised Metafilter has so many fans of authoritarian government.

I'm not sure if you're in this category, but a lot of people seem to think that corporations with vast influence on peoples' consumer behaviour, working conditions, and on government itself, are somehow not authoritarian. An anti-authoritarian must oppose both governmental and corporate overreach.

I also find it really weird that the same crowd that considers narrowing of consumer choice to be a nasty violation of personal freedom often has little trouble with government policy that curtails more human freedoms more profound than the right to choose between Coke or Diet Coke.

Someone should take a poll among New Yorkers to find out the size of the intersection between the set of people who oppose such a ban and the people who support stopping and frisking folks for Walking While Not White. They should also ask people in this intersection if their opposition to the soda ban involves notions of "personal freedom".
posted by kengraham at 9:21 AM on May 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


What about stop and frisk for people carrying 75oz sodas though?
posted by elizardbits at 9:23 AM on May 31, 2012


If you ask me, any efforts the city makes at getting people to consume less sugar should be geared toward education and increasing the availability of alternatives. Give me more choices, and maybe I'll be less likely to choose the bad thing. But tell me that the bad thing is bad, and that I'm bad for choosing it, and not only that, I can't have it at the movies because it's so bad and I'm so stupid I'll choose it even though it's bad? I'll likely respond by telling you to fuck off.

The administration has been doing huge things in this area, but the press largely doesn't feel that it's worth an article and for some reason we never get an FPP about it. They are giving breaks and subsidies to "real" grocery stores, they are bring farmers' markets to underserved neighborhoods, they are giving card readers to groceries and famers' markets for free so it's easy for people to buy produce with credit cards or foodstamps. Hell they've been trying for a simply soda tax for at least 4 years, only to be blocked by Albany.

And the resentment that kicks in whenever Bloomberg tries a new strategy (oh, you like parks? No smoking in them!) keeps me puffing away. It's like the man has never heard of reverse psychology. Nobody takes up smoking because they think it's healthy. It's a form of rebellion, and the more you "punish" smokers, the more they cling to their nicotine.

As an anecdote this just makes me incredibly sad. Luckily the overall data does not bear this out. As products like cigarrettes and sugar become more expensive or harder to get, their use declines (as noted above).
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:25 AM on May 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


This portrayal of the corporations making the "default decisions" about the choices available to us, makes it sound as though it's some sort of special case. It isn't that's the reality of all our choices. We may not have the "infinite resources to make perfect decisions" but again, that's standard. This isn't unique to dietary choices.

It sure isn't. For example, we get the choice of gas-guzzling car or gas-guzzling truck. Oh, of course, it's the free market, and people are making decisions according to the price the market is willing to pay. Except that there's the price we pay to the corporations, and then there's the price we pay as taxpayers and in all other ways for all of the costs that those corporations externalize. It costs money to clean up oil spills and restore ecosystems, it costs money to treat people for health impacts of polluted air, and it costs jobs when fisheries are killed off.

What we're discussing here is a piece-meal, small step. In a broader solution, soft drink manufacturers should be subject to a "polluter pays" arrangement, so that all of the public health costs stemming from soda consumption have to be borne by the corporation that is the source of the problem. The public interest is not served by markets that are free of regulation and in which players have unlimited ability to externalize their costs.
posted by parudox at 9:27 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


And the resentment that kicks in whenever Bloomberg tries a new strategy (oh, you like parks? No smoking in them!) keeps me puffing away.

Yes, BLOOMBERG keeps you puffing away. That's the most inventive addiction rationalization I've heard in a while...
posted by hermitosis at 9:31 AM on May 31, 2012 [10 favorites]


Anecdote:

About 10 years back I was in line at a fast food restaurant to grab a quick bite and a person was ordering in front of me. He asked for the a large soda and the person behind the counter handed him the biggest cup I have ever seen. It literally had a handle built into it so that it could be carried like a bucket. The guy in all seriousness looks at the cashier and asked "Is that the biggest you got?" (The next larger size would have included a stick so that 2 people could carry it!)
posted by batou_ at 9:33 AM on May 31, 2012


In a broader solution, soft drink manufacturers should be subject to a "polluter pays" arrangement, so that all of the public health costs stemming from soda consumption have to be borne by the corporation that is the source of the problem. The public interest is not served by markets that are free of regulation and in which players have unlimited ability to externalize their costs.

I don't think any market participants should be able to externalize their costs. While that has some applicability to pollution, it has much less to public health. First off, individual dietary choices shouldn't be considered a public health issue. Costs resulting from diet should be borne by the individuals making those choices. But beyond that, what will be the standard for determining the externalized costs of a given food or beverage? A vegetarian? How about a calorie restricted diet?
posted by BigSky at 9:35 AM on May 31, 2012


Even if you have n number of studies backing your position, choosing to assume that adult citizens are incapable of making decisions in their own best interest is remarkably condescending and authoritarian.

So it doesn't matter whether or not we are Homo Economicus, because to assume we aren't would be condescending and authoritarian? Marketers have known for a long time that people do not make choices in their best interests (much longer than economists, many of whom still don't), and they have been using that to their advantage (and thus, our disadvantage) for a long time. I guess we could just pretend that there is no problem, and just leave it all up to the friendly folks at Cargill and Shell and Coca-Cola.
posted by parudox at 9:35 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I suspect that Jamba Juice is behind this, so they can sell more of their overpriced 'smoothies' that look like something you'd skim off a pool. Quit being a busybody, Mike, and go govern. You'll get my Big Gulp of Mountain Dew when you pry it from my cold, dead, caffeinated hands.
posted by jonmc at 9:38 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm envisioning black market soda operations. I see young teens flocking to the border of Jersey just to buy a 32 oz Cherry Coke Zero. I see parties, probably with dancing! The horror! And revved up engines adding to the multitude of car stereos.

I see young adults and older teens hooked on Big Gulps waiting for the elementary schools to let out. "Come on, you'll like this!" they'll say. "It'll make you feel good!" And except for the occasional head freeze from too much ice, it will. We'll have nine and ten year olds hopped up on so much sugar, they won't be able to control their bodies. Their limbs will jerk and their heads bob. They will laugh uncontrollably until The Crash.

They will not be able to move. They will lay in a comatose like state, but awake, staring at the television for hours, unable to summon the energy to move. Their mothers will call them to the table for a dinner of spinach salad, whole wheat pasta, and milk.

But they will not respond. Mothers will whisper to fathers, "Maybe he's on the Big Gulp!" And fathers, in the abyss of denial, will say, "Oh, Martha. The boy's just had a long day." But the mothers. The mothers will know.

And this knowing will culminate in a group called MABS (Mothers Against Big Sodas). They will petition the government to erect fences on the border of other states, to station guard patrols, for breathalyzers that can detect the amount of sugar on the tongue. There will be tv campaigns to "Just Say No to Soda!" And the police force will create a soda education program called SARE (Soda Awareness Resistance Education). Patrols will be set up outside elementary schools, and Soda Free Zones will mean anyone caught within 500 feet of a school with a soda will be fined.

This will be the way of it. Limiting or removing soda will only make it an underground operation. I would think this would be more dangerous.
posted by zizzle at 9:39 AM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


FIRST THEY CAME FOR MY SODA AND I DIDN'T SPEAK OUT BECAUSE I WAS OUT OF BREATH
posted by entropicamericana at 9:40 AM on May 31, 2012 [13 favorites]


Marketers have known for a long time that people do not make choices in their best interests

Define "interest". This is the Puritian ethic of making people healthly, wealthy and wise despite themselves.
posted by spaltavian at 9:40 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is the Puritian ethic of making people healthly, wealthy and wise despite themselves.

I'm pretty amused that giant sodas -- an object of national derision and a symbol of our unhealthy, cheap indulgences for DECADES (at least since I was a child) have won so many defenders.
posted by hermitosis at 9:44 AM on May 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm not a defender of giant sodas per se any more than donating to the ACLU makes me a Nazi supporter.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:47 AM on May 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


As someone who has drank about 2 liters of Diet Coke/Pepsi/Sam's Club a day, I can no longer stand the super sweetness of regular soda, and I have grown to love the aftertaste that so many people decry.

I applaud this move, and hope it goes nation wide immediately, for I long for the days where no longer will I have to endure the "Out of Order" sign at the Diet Coke fountain, or to be dismayed to find out that the .99 special at Walgreens is out of Diet Pepsi. From the bottom of my damaged kidneys to my chemically saturated organs. I thank you Mr. Bloomberg.

As for reducing obesity, for me, this is garbage science. I am 36 and haven't drank regular soda more than a handful of times (usually by restaurant employee error) in 20 years. I have, however, noticed an amazing thing. For most of those twenty years, I was morbidly obese, despite all the diet soda I was drinking (some would say my obesity was assisted by the massive amounts of sugar substitutes). It probably had more to do with a terrible diet and complete lack of exercise. Once I changed my diet to include things that weren't fried and began bike riding, I was able to get down to a "normal" weight. Go figure.
posted by Debaser626 at 9:47 AM on May 31, 2012


I can't decide which I hate more -- the ridiculous paternalism of this proposed ban, or the disingenuous ads the soda industry has been putting up to give the impression that, really, they offer a lot of healthy options.
posted by Jeanne at 9:47 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


the disingenuous ads the soda industry has been putting up to give the impression that, really, they offer a lot of healthy options.

Oh the ads are great! : “More Choices. Smaller Portions. Fewer Calories. America’s beverage companies are delivering.” Who ever thought "we sell you less" would be a selling point?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:50 AM on May 31, 2012


I'm not sure most of us realize just how vast the increase in restaurant/fast food serving size has been over the past 60 years or so. This article was quite an eye opener for me when I saw it last week. Bloomberg's proposal might seem a bit authoritarian, but I don't think it's a bad idea to encourage our society to reconsider what an "appropriate" serving size looks like.
posted by Go Banana at 9:52 AM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


"The measure would not apply to diet sodas, fruit juices, dairy-based drinks like milkshakes, or alcoholic beverages."

40oz of Coke? No way!

40oz of St. Ides? Sure, go right ahead.
posted by madajb at 9:52 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


does anyone mind drinking Coke zero over coke?

Absolutely. Coke Zero tastes horrible to me, as does any other soda with artificial sweeteners. (Apparently I am some sort of rare breed of aspartame supertaster.) Besides, aspartame is one of my migraine triggers.

And yes, I need to drink less regular coke. But replacing it with huge portions of fruit juice doesn't really accomplish much... if they really wanted to force us all into healthier habits, the only allowable large drink would be straight up water.
posted by somanyamys at 9:53 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


40oz of St. Ides? Sure, go right ahead.

At least the people buying that would be an adult. Kids and teenagers (supervised or otherwise) make up a large portion of the people currently buying the oversized drinks.
posted by hermitosis at 9:54 AM on May 31, 2012


40oz of Coke? No way!

40oz of St. Ides? Sure, go right ahead.


Actually, I would be pretty entertained by a law that required all sugar-based sodas to be purchased only by over-21-year-olds.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:56 AM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't like this. I am afraid other cities will follow suit. I like huge sodas in the summer, even though I have mostly cut soda out for various reasons. I am in no danger of being overweight. This seems like it is punishing those who are healthy and know how to manage their diet for the sins of those who don't.
posted by polywomp at 9:57 AM on May 31, 2012


I would like to see the Venn diagram of the following two groups:

1. People who think this is a good idea.
2. People who think that laws against marijuana are immoral.1. People who think this is a good idea.
2. People who think that laws against marijuana are immoral.


*raises hand* (or says "I'm in both.")

I would have little problem with laws regulating the size of the marijuana packages that can be sold at specific outlets.

I'm generally in favor of this law, for the same reason I think the sale of guns should be extremely regulated.

The law does nothing to restrict is nothing stopping you from drinking as much soda as you like. The restriction is on commercial rights (what producers can sell) not personal rights. I don't understand the "libertarian" opposition to the law.

Man, of all the things you could spend a ton of political capital on, why this?

Actually, if I were appointed Benevolent Dictator of the United States, "fixing" soda (and the sugar industry), automobiles (and the oil/pollution industries), prisons, and the military (and the other death industries) would be among my top initial priorities.

I've long dreamed for a president who says "drink water instead of coke" and "broccoli is good for you and tastes good too," and I am rarely surprised, but I NEVER thought we'd get to where we are by now. I don't care for your husband terribly much, but THANK YOU, MICHELLE.

Note: a 3-cent tax on each 12-ounce sugared soda would raise $51.6 billion over a decade.

UK experts: Tax soda to fight obesity

But many of the measures adopted in New York have become models for other cities, including restrictions on smoking

California is usual ahead of New York on all that stuff. It's been over 20 years for San Luis Obispo.

Mind you, this proposed rule doesn't apply to sugarless or low-sugar drinks, so it encourages people to switch to healthier large drinks if they really want large drinks.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:57 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm another one who gets triggered for migraines by artificial sweeteners. (The last time I accidentally had Splenda, by drinking a lemon water "with other natural flavors" and not checking the ingredients on the label, I was in so much pain that I was sobbing on the bus.)

On the other hand, I can sometimes stop a migraine in its tracks with caffeine + sugar + Advil. Calories aren't the only measure of whether something is good for you.

Diet sodas have their own associated health issues.
posted by Jeanne at 10:01 AM on May 31, 2012


When I was a kid, staying with my grandmother in Thomson, Georgia back in the seventies, the summer days would be about as hot as Satan's nylon underpants, and it was that part of the south where all the soil's really just sand, and where the shade's rare, so you'd play on streets where the air was shimmering like an impending dream sequence until you'd sweat out some portion of your soul. We'd all storm into the house, begging for spare change in my grandmother's dark, sullen, and velvet-laden parlor, and if we got some, we'd run for the gas station up the street.

The old gas station had a soda machine of the kind that baby boomer billionaires buy in pristine restored condition for their man caves, but still in its lovably degenerate form—a large rounded refrigerator with the earnest text reading "ICE COLD" stamped permanently in the sheetmetal where the red paint had dulled into a soft pink with rust sweeping in like high tide. It wasn't automated to the degree they are now, so you'd drop in your coins, then pull the pockmarked chrome handle and raise the heavy top-opening door with a fair amount of difficulty. Inside, there was a complicated mass of rusty machinery like the conveyors at a bottling plant, and you'd reach down and take the one that the machine had unlocked for you.

The tactile play of it was wonderful, from the effort of getting into the machine to the way you'd hang over the open cabinet, dripping sweat into the misty machinery as you enjoyed that rare and glorious coolness as long as you could. The feel of the crinkle-edge bottlecap, the heft of the bottle, the way that there was a ground-down ring of wear around each bottle, which had been sold and returned and sold and returned again for decades—the anticipation was just so much a part of it. There was an opener on the machine, with a little hopper to catch the caps, but we'd just hotfoot it back to my grandmother's house so we could treat the moment with the spiritual reverence it required.

Like a lot of Southern houses in the day, there was a bottle opener screwed onto the wall on the front porch like a Baptist mezuzah, and you'd pop the cap, pocket it, and take a seat on the old metal glider there. I wasn't much for subtlety in those days, but me—I took that first sip of six and a half ounces of bubbling brown delight like a connoisseur. The sugar was real cane, the ingredients still secret, with layers and tones and overtones that drifted and emerged and disappeared again in the tickling of your tongue as you sat and savored every perfect drop.

A huge pea-green sedan slid by, piloted by one of the blue-haired ladies of the Daughters of the Confederacy, and came to a lumbering halt there. The driver hollered over at me.

"Jobie! Would you tell your grandmother I have her casserole dish?"

"Yes'm, Miss Marie!"

I rested the half-full bottle on the broad arm of the glider, running in to let my grandmother know about this important new development in Thomson society.

"Well, see if you can go fetch it," my grandmother said. I ran out, snatched up the bottle, and walked up to the sedan.

"Mama Lyle says I should fetch it," I said. I opened the door of the car and climbed in, settling in nicely on a green brocade bench seat as long as my bed at home, and rode up the street in the grand manner, sipping at my soda and enjoying the incoming breeze. We arrived at her house up the street as I polished off the last of it, tucking the bottle into the pocket of my baggy shorts. Miss Marie gave me a wooden crate that still proudly advertised its original use as a case of Miller Farm Lard and contained a casserole dish and a dozen empty Coke bottles.

"You drop them off for me and you can have the deposit for yourself," she said, and I smiled a broad and slightly caffeinated smile. I walked through the not-remotely-bustling downtown, waved at Miss Emma in the drugstore, and stopped at the gas station to trade my bottles for some change, walking at a quick pace to keep the pavement from burning my bare feet.

Nothing is so scarce for me anymore, and even less so for my nieces and nephew, who've grown up in the era of the soda in a container the size of a bathroom wastebasket. I wish sometimes that I could convey that moment, and the sensation of an ice cold six-and-a-half ounce glass bottle of cane sugar Coke on one more blazing hot Georgia afternoon, because it was magic in a way that the workmanlike chore of guzzling down an enormous vat of corn syrup cola that you bought at the movie theater because it was only seven cents more will never, ever be, but I suspect that such things are destined to be lost to history.

I don't know that you can legislate desire, particularly of the kind that's fanned by omnipresent advertising, calling on us to chase after unreachable satiation like we're all after the green light at the end of Daisy's dock, but I wonder if it might just be possible to use a little tax here and an incentive there and a bit of well-considered advertising to let people know that there is still another way.
posted by sonascope at 10:05 AM on May 31, 2012 [34 favorites]


Yes, diet sodas have their own health risks. Yes, people can still get two sodas. Yes, eating better food is more important.

Perhaps I should refer you to that famous Supreme Court case Perfect v. Good?
posted by modernserf at 10:06 AM on May 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Define "interest". This is the Puritian ethic of making people healthly, wealthy and wise despite themselves.

There's a lot of definitions, and they depend on the context. I just pulled a textbook off the shelf that's called "Consumer Behaviour: Advances and Applications in Marketing." It discusses decision-making biases plenty, and includes this in a postscript:

When we look at consumer behaviour we find that people: Marketers are pretty aware that tons of things sway consumer choice, both for what to buy and how much to buy, beyond that which people would describe as their own interest.
posted by parudox at 10:06 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bans are crude, authoritarian instruments, and tend to feed into anti-state resentment except when there's overwhelming popular demand for them.

Do you consider the speed limit a "ban" on driving fast? (Or, as someone else mentioned, do you consider seat belt laws a "ban" on driving while unrestrained?) C'mon. There's no overwhelming popular support for speed limits (nor seatbelt laws).

does anyone mind drinking Coke zero over coke?

Absolutely. I'll avoid both poisons (and both products of a company with a strong fascist leanings), but I'd MUCH rather have sugar or HFCS than whatever the hell chemicals are in diet sodas.

Pretty much every food scientist I've read cautions against diet soda, as in it's much worse than regular soda.

this kind of law feeds into the common (and stupid) prejudice that fat people are fat because they lack self control

It's a limit on sellers, not buyers. The idea being that producers are pushing these large sizes onto consumers to get the bounce (addictive) effect of overconsumption.

Someone who wants to buy 20 liters of soda can still buy 20 liters of soda.

Why is fruit juice exempt?

Amen. OJ isn't much different than Coke.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:08 AM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Adding a data point to the discussion: Some research suggests that visual cues of portion size influence consumption (pdf). "It seems that people use their eyes to count calories and not their stomachs."

The authors suggest that when suppliers increase portion sizes, normal mechanisms that limit intake are undermined. This is not strictly a matter of self-control. If environmental cues about what is "large" change, then we lose some ability to self-monitor our intake level. Hence, by increasing portion sizes, we increase unintentional over-consumption.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 10:08 AM on May 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


If environmental cues about what is "large" change, then we lose some ability to self-monitor our intake level. Hence, by increasing portion sizes, we increase unintentional over-consumption.

Yeah, exactly. This law seems like basic regulation of commercial speech/expression. It would be similar to restricting "subliminal" advertising or whatever.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:10 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's amusing that despite the bickering, nobody has brought up the financial aspect.

We're in a system that is bankrupting middle class human beings because either insurance was too expensive and they can't afford it or their insurance plan covered A, B and D, but not C. Heck, I'm not even talking about that socialized medicare stuff that people want government to stay out of.

And if a small part of that solution is forcing a small part of the population to not do a small something, then fcuk yes I think that's a great idea.

Your individual liberties be damned when we're talking about your liberty to be stupid. The same goes with cigarettes, alcohol and fireworks.

The opposite of that argument is that we should allow people to be free from any regulation at all, and damn the inevitable costs. And that argument makes no sense when you actually look at the actual costs.
posted by Blue_Villain at 10:12 AM on May 31, 2012


there was a bottle opener screwed onto the wall on the front porch like a Baptist mezuzah,

That's pretty great. :)
posted by docpops at 10:12 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


does anyone mind drinking Coke zero over coke?

That stuff is vile. Any amount of aspartame (except in minty chewing gum, where I guess the mint somehow masks the flavor) is revolting to me. I don't know how people can stand it.
posted by polywomp at 10:14 AM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Related: HBO's Weight of the Nation 4-part documentary is viewable online for free.

It touches a lot on sugary drinks, oversized portions, how these food products are marketed (especially at kids), and the effects of drinking multiple sweetened drinks per day.
posted by cadge at 10:23 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Pretty much every food scientist I've read cautions against diet soda, as in it's much worse than regular soda.

Do you have any examples of a food scientist explaining why diet soda is much worse than soda with sugars?
posted by grouse at 10:41 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm frankly surprised Metafilter has so many fans of authoritarian government.

It is soda, ffs. It is toxic for you in those quantities, like breathing polluted air or standing under acid rain, which your government also gets authoritarian about.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:41 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


And by declaring that they are, in fact, helpless pawns of corporations who have no free will in the face of a 64-ounce cup and need government to tell them what choices they're allowed to make, that helps them not blame others for their problems?

Well, to be fair, there is a substantial body of clinical evidence that suggests that humans only have a limited amount of will power to resist temptations: Regardless of what kind of moral fiber or character you think you have, no one can resist temptations indefinitely, and in modern society I do think it's a fair point that we're all subjected to way more temptations than anyone is likely to be able to resist completely.

Everyone gives in to some vice or weakness at some point in their daily lives, period. Even if it's just speeding a little, or something seemingly innocuous like that. It's not psychology sustainable never to give in or make poor decisions, so I can see some wisdom and perhaps even necessity in efforts like this to help us regulate, to some degree, the opportunities marketers and others have for tempting us with bad choices--providing us with information is one thing, but actively tempting us, that seems like another to me... If there's a good argument for this ban, it might be on that basis. But I still think a ban is too politically clumsy a tool in this case and too likely to arouse anti-regulatory sentiment.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:42 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


oops: should read "psychologically sustainable," natch...
posted by saulgoodman at 10:43 AM on May 31, 2012


At hospitals in new york some patients are so large that they had to be taken to the zoo for MRI's to be scanned.

snopes message board
News article.

This is a friggin' urban legend as zoos can't afford MRIs or CT machines. Animals are scanned in human machines, if they don't fit, they don't get scanned.
posted by SuzySmith at 10:44 AM on May 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


So it doesn't matter whether or not we are Homo Economicus, because to assume we aren't would be condescending and authoritarian?

Yeah. A big part of life is making decisions, exercising one's agency. Disapproval of someone else's choices is not sufficient cause to reduce their autonomy.

In addition, I suspect that many of the papers showing that we do not make rational decisions could be interpreted as showing that most people do not know their own minds, and their own preferences are actually revealed in the choices they make. The biases you list in a later post can also be thought of as unconscious preferences which consumers are willing to pay for. Making decisions and reflecting upon them is one way these preferences can come to their attention and then consciously kept or discarded.

-----

I'm pretty amused that giant sodas -- an object of national derision and a symbol of our unhealthy, cheap indulgences for DECADES (at least since I was a child) have won so many defenders.

It's amusing that you think I am a defender of giant sodas. I'm not, I don't drink them and consider them a waste of money. I'm defending people having the choice to purchase soda in a quantity of their choosing.

-----

I don't understand the "libertarian" opposition to the law.

The government is interfering in a private agreement between two consenting parties.

-----

Your individual liberties be damned when we're talking about your liberty to be stupid.

If liberty means that the only choices I can make are ones you approve, then it's not worth very much.

The reason we have all the ridiculous "consensual crimes" that are on the books is because of people like you, who think their opinion of what is stupid, or unhealthy, or immoral should be binding on the rest of us.

We're in a system that is bankrupting middle class human beings because either insurance was too expensive and they can't afford it or their insurance plan covered A, B and D, but not C. Heck, I'm not even talking about that socialized medicare stuff that people want government to stay out of.

And if a small part of that solution is forcing a small part of the population to not do a small something, then fcuk yes I think that's a great idea.


We could make even more progress in this direction if we attached a pedometer to everyone with tamper proof ankle bands and started leveling criminal sanctions on those who failed to walk the requisite number of steps.
posted by BigSky at 10:45 AM on May 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


According to the IRS, "Obesity is medically accepted to be a disease in its own right"

- and -
The panel concluded that considering obesity a disease is likely to have far more positive than negative consequences and to benefit the greater good by soliciting more resources into prevention, treatment, and research of obesity; encouraging more high-quality caring professionals to view treating the obese patient as a vocation worthy of effort and respect; and reducing the stigma and discrimination heaped on many obese persons. The panel felt that this utilitarian analysis was a legitimate approach to addressing the topic, as well as the approach used for many other conditions labeled diseases, even if not explicitly so. Thus, although one cannot scientifically prove either that obesity is a disease or that it is not a disease, a utilitarian approach supports the position that obesity should be declared a disease.
At the end of the day, it's safe to say that whether or not it's a disease, the increasing numbers of overweight people is not a good thing. Discouraging/harassing food products that deliver no nutritional value and are commonly consumed in excessive amounts seems like it can only be a positive. I think we'd all be better off if domestically produced HCFS was taxed within the US at rates that negate the subsidy that industrial corn is given.
posted by mullingitover at 10:48 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


In addition, I suspect that many of the papers showing that we do not make rational decisions could be interpreted as showing that most people do not know their own minds, and their own preferences are actually revealed in the choices they make. The biases you list in a later post can also be thought of as unconscious preferences which consumers are willing to pay for.

If what you claim is that even though all sorts of factors bias decisions away from objective dimensions and stated preferences, that the resulting decisions reveal the true, unconscious preferences... then that is unfalsifiable. Then it's a matter of faith and ideology that only the invisible hand really knows what you want.
posted by parudox at 10:54 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's amusing that you think I am a defender of giant sodas. I'm not, I don't drink them and consider them a waste of money. I'm defending people having the choice to purchase soda in a quantity of their choosing.

They'll still have the right to purchase as much soda as they could possibly ever want. It's the size of the containers that's being regulated.
posted by hermitosis at 10:55 AM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Does anyone happen to remember when Bloomberg designated Snapple as the official drink of New York City, and agreed to putting machines selling Snapple in the f**king public schools?????
posted by DMelanogaster at 11:01 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


And the resentment that kicks in whenever Bloomberg tries a new strategy (oh, you like parks? No smoking in them!) keeps me puffing away.

Way to cut off your lungs to spite your wallet, there.
posted by Gator at 11:03 AM on May 31, 2012


If liberty means that the only choices I can make are ones you approve, then

Then... you clearly don't understand the theory of "we're doing what's best for you because you've demonstrated quite unequivocally that you can't do this yourself."

Heck, my government held a draft to send people like me to war because they said that was what was best for me. They taxed my automobile because they said that was what was best for me. They used that money to pave the roads that go straight to my house because they said that was what was best for me. They sent my kids to school without me having to pay an extra dime because they said that was what was best for me.

So yeah, we live in a pretty terrible society now because you can't have your sugary drinks.
posted by Blue_Villain at 11:05 AM on May 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


The biases you list in a later post can also be thought of as unconscious preferences which consumers are willing to pay for.

Nonsense. We aren't just consumers or robotically precise, robotic decision-makers like the mythical Homo economicus. We're animals. We have overpowering instincts and emotional responses that make us anything but cool calculating machines that know what they want or for that matter even necessarily have a single set of easily comprehensible, coherent wants and desires. This analysis of the market is incompatible with even our most basic, uncontroversial scientific knowledge about how the human mind actually works mechanically and biologically.

Any animal's mind can be hacked. In order to have a decent shot at actually making well-informed, rational choices, we need our ability to make good choices to be preserved, protected and promoted by policies that give us the power to make choices in a deliberate, controlled and informed way. There may be better or worse ways to do it, but the need for the state to occasionally play some role in these kinds of areas seems axiomatic.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:05 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Then... you clearly don't understand the theory of "we're doing what's best for you because you've demonstrated quite unequivocally that you can't do this yourself."

They're the same thing. "What's best for you" is to "make choices [regulator] approves of" as "corn sugar" is to "high-fructose corn syrup."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:11 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


So why have a legal drinking age, or drunk driving laws, for example? Surely people know what's best for themselves...
posted by hermitosis at 11:15 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why is fruit juice exempt?

Because people don't guzzle fruit juice by the bucketful as if every drink was a freak show contest.
posted by pracowity at 11:20 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Drunk driving laws: for the same reason we have laws against dropping safes onto crowded sidewalks. Or assault.

Legal drinking age: Hell if I know. Hands up, everybody who never took a drink as a teenager because it was illegal.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:21 AM on May 31, 2012


Legal drinking age: Hell if I know.

Because alcohol is a highly toxic substance that can kill in relatively small (easily consumable, anyway) doses? We can't let kids buy just anything.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:24 AM on May 31, 2012


Is anyone OK with Bloomberg, say, banning sales of video games because they contribute to an unhealthy sedentary lifestyle?

Only the ones that come in really big cups.
posted by audi alteram partem at 11:24 AM on May 31, 2012


If fruit juice was as cheap as soda, you'd better believe I'd be guzzling a 44oz of pineapple-orange every day. As it is, I just hit the Circle K around lunchtime and snag me a big ol' Coke or a Code Red for 69 cents plus tax.
posted by Gator at 11:25 AM on May 31, 2012


And the resentment that kicks in whenever Bloomberg tries a new strategy (oh, you like parks? No smoking in them!) keeps me puffing away.

Yes, BLOOMBERG keeps you puffing away. That's the most inventive addiction rationalization I've heard in a while...


No. I did not say that Bloomberg keeps me puffing away. I said resentment keeps me puffing away. And I'm not suggesting that's a good thing. I'm not suggesting I should keep smoking cigarettes until I die of emphysema. I'm just saying that sometimes resentment can get in the way of a person making lifestyle changes.
posted by brina at 11:28 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


This isn't just nanny-state-ism -- the fiscal elements of this are huge. Obesity correlates to poverty more in New York City than probably anywhere else, and the costs of treating the coincident hypertension and diabetes fall very heavily on the City by way of Medicaid.
posted by MattD at 11:30 AM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


brina: " I'm just saying that sometimes resentment can get in the way of a person making lifestyle changes."

This is very true, if by resentment you mean rationalized addiction.
posted by mullingitover at 11:32 AM on May 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


Heck, my government held a draft to send people like me to war because they said that was what was best for me. They taxed my automobile because they said that was what was best for me. They used that money to pave the roads that go straight to my house because they said that was what was best for me. They sent my kids to school without me having to pay an extra dime because they said that was what was best for me.

A government doesn't draft people to fight wars because they think it's best for the individuals being drafted. They draft people to fight wars to protect that government's interests. Generally speaking, the concerns of the individual in this country haven't counted for much, for a long, long time.

The tax money from autos goes to pay for roads, in general, that are used for shipping and commerce, not for the road that goes by your house, unless you live on an off-ramp for an interstate.

Your property taxes pay for public education. I'm pretty sure you've paid quite a few extra dimes on that one. And by the way, what do you think of what you got for your money? Have you looked at the condition of public schools lately? The quality of the education? Do you really think that that is best for your children?

It's not about sugary drinks, it's the god-damned principle of the thing.

I don't like it when the government assumes I'm stupid, and uses its power to limit my freedoms, even when it is a small thing, like what sized container I can drink my god-damned Coke from.

But if you're cool with that, about all I can say is, I'm glad we're not neighbors.
posted by KHAAAN! at 11:45 AM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


You can still drink your coke from any sized container. Again, this just limits the freedom of certain businesses to sell containers larger than a certain size.

You are welcome to carry an empty bucket around and just pour your drinks into it.
posted by hermitosis at 11:49 AM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


it's the god-damned principle of the thing.

I agree exactly.

It's the principle that the government is sick and damned tired of paying for all of the people who take advantage of it's services, and that if we as a whole are not able to govern ourselves and make rational fiscal decisions then they will gladly step in and do what's in (read me here) the best interest of the government.

i.e. no sugary drinks for you.
posted by Blue_Villain at 11:52 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


As I waded through the crowds, I checked out the menu and was greeted by some old favorites. To my delight and horror, Chicken McNuggets are the same everywhere, although in Italy the default combo size was six nuggets and the "medium" fries and Coke of my childhood. Which I think today is roughly a small or child size. It was awesome to finish my meal and drink and not feel obscenely bloated and also not have half a cup of beverage and almost a whole carton fries left behind.

I've lived in Rome for 14 years now and have rarely1 crossed the threshold of the local MickieD's to actually eat2. Up until recently3 I could not finish the medium menu without wanting to hurl.

But give me a light lunch and a long leisurely dinner and without blinking an eye I will pack away antipasti, primo, secondo, contorno, fruit or dessert, and coffee all accompanied by water, wine and digestivi. When my family comes to visit, I've shocked them with how much I can eat (I'm 5'1" and small framed).

It's not just the HFCS or fat or the portions, it's all that combined with choking it down in record time so you can rush off to the next thing, IMO.

1 Until I met my partner, who used to have a bit of a McD's fetish. Then I took him to Texas and showed him what a proper hamburger is supposed to be.
2 McD's is priceless for when you are out and about and need to pee.
3 I'm blaming pregnancy for the fact that I sucked down the entire medium menu a couple of weeks back. Still felt gross afterwards, though.

posted by romakimmy at 11:53 AM on May 31, 2012


I'll have to double check, but I don't remember seeing Freedom to Buy a Half Gallon of Sugar Water in a Single Container enumerated in the Constitution.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:54 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


KHAAAN!: "I don't like it when the government assumes I'm stupid, and uses its power to limit my freedoms, even when it is a small thing, like what sized container I can drink my god-damned Coke from. "

If society at large hadn't gone hog wild on dirt cheap calories and ballooned into large numbers of overweight people, thus demonstrating the need for some token level of guidance, we wouldn't be in this situation. So it's not that the government is assuming you (as a hypothetical average member of the public at large) are stupid, it's that they're observing it and taking practically the smallest measurable unit of action on the matter.
posted by mullingitover at 11:55 AM on May 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


Man, drinking water rather than soda is so much easier. Zero calories, no caffeine, so no negative health effects. If you spill it, it doesn't stain or leave a sticky residue -- just wait a few hours and it'll clean itself up. And they pump it straight to your house, so you NEVER RUN OUT.

Water: The choice of a slack generation.
posted by LordSludge at 12:05 PM on May 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


So yeah, we live in a pretty terrible society now because you can't have your sugary drinks.

I wouldn't say terrible, but we are living in a society that is endorsing a meddling, do-gooder mentality. Then again, it's been doing that for quite a while now.

-----

So why have a legal drinking age, or drunk driving laws, for example? Surely people know what's best for themselves...

I assume this in response to me? Earlier I wrote, "Disapproval of someone else's choices is not sufficient cause to reduce their autonomy." That implies there are other reasons that are sufficient.

-----

Nonsense. We aren't just consumers or robotically precise, robotic decision-makers like the mythical Homo economicus. We're animals. We have overpowering instincts and emotional responses that make us anything but cool calculating machines that know what they want or for that matter even necessarily have a single set of easily comprehensible, coherent wants and desires. This analysis of the market is incompatible with even our most basic, uncontroversial scientific knowledge about how the human mind actually works mechanically and biologically.

Any animal's mind can be hacked. In order to have a decent shot at actually making well-informed, rational choices, we need our ability to make good choices to be preserved, protected and promoted by policies that give us the power to make choices in a deliberate, controlled and informed way. There may be better or worse ways to do it, but the need for the state to occasionally play some role in these kinds of areas seems axiomatic.


Not sure how the first paragraph is disproving what I said. I'm not arguing that we are some sort of cool, calculating machine, but rather that through reflection on the results of our decisions we can identify our own actual desires, whether they be contextual or fleeting or persistent.

And as for needing some sort of controlled environment to make a rational, well-informed decision (whatever that might mean), most decisions have been and continue to be made in anything but that environment. Consumer decisions aren't even the most important ones we make, and now we need to be in some kind of a bubble for our own protection? This reads like a very paternalistic argument for shaping the context of decisions until people are making what you have decreed to be the appropriate choice.

Let's stick to the context here, we aren't talking about keeping merchants accountable to their marketing claims, this is about reducing access to legitimate goods.

-----

if we as a whole are not able to govern ourselves and make rational fiscal decisions then they will gladly step in and do what's in (read me here) the best interest of the government.

That is the principle, although I would edit it to say "make what the government considers to be rational fiscal decisions". I suspect you find it unnecessary to clarify that it's the government who is the arbiter of rational. Anyway, I'm a little surprised that you can type that out and agree with it.

Isn't there a little concern over who makes the call about our ability to govern ourselves? Doesn't the government have a vested interest in declaring us unable?
posted by BigSky at 12:06 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think a much better approach would be to heavily subsidize "good" foods. I mean, we already have tons of food subsidies, so this is nothing new, just put them where science indicates it will benefit public health / costs.

This should have a similar effect, but in a much more benign direction. Nobody likes to have choices taken away, even if it's something minor like this. But almost everyone likes lower prices.

If someone wants to eat unhealthily, though, that is fine with me. I only recently started caring at all about this stuff, and can appreciate that some people just don't care. The assumption or insistence that EVERYONE SHOULD CARE ABOUT THIS (on an individual level) really drives me crazy.
posted by wildcrdj at 12:18 PM on May 31, 2012


Actually, I would be pretty entertained by a law that required all sugar-based sodas to be purchased only by over-21-year-olds.

Coke. We Card because We Care.
posted by madajb at 12:20 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


The thing that gets me when people complain about this sort of thing as an issue of "liberty" is that it's not a ban on you having a giant soda. If you're dead set on drinking a trash can-sized vat of soda, even under the most draconian rendition of a ban like the proposed one, all you have to do is buy yourself a case of club soda (or a Sodastream if you're DIY and thrifty), a great big bottle of Karo (or homemade simple syrup if you're DIY and thrifty and don't like corn syrup), and a small quantity of flavorings, and you can mix yourself up a great big gigantic inland sea of effervescent sugar water.

A ban like this is a regulation on commerce, not "liberty," and commerce has been regulated in this regard ever since we figured out that asbestos toothpaste and heroin cough syrup probably weren't very good ideas for the overall public health. Is a vendor less free because she can't sell lead paint eye makeup for little girls? Is liberty really at risk if we opt against allowing an auto manufacturer to fill their airbags with glass cullet?

The government has every right, under the Constitution, to tell a business what they can or can't sell. You retain the freedom to drink your soda out of a fifty-five gallon drum if you like. Hell, you can buy two 16 ounce sodas and chug 'em one after another, 'cause we're in America and face-spiting is our stock in trade (see also: "soup bowl helmets for Harley riders" for more information). For most people, though, this isn't going to be their first choice, and maybe, just maybe, they'll get used to quantities of foodstuffs that aren't quite so ridiculous.

It's a sign of our hyperparanoiac post-millennial nuttiness that these things so easily get turned around into "the goverment is telling me I can't have something!" instead of something far more prosaic and rational.
posted by sonascope at 12:30 PM on May 31, 2012 [26 favorites]


I see nothing wrong with this in principle.
posted by lotusmish at 12:52 PM on May 31, 2012


This really pissed me off until I remembered that 1) I don't drink sugared sodas and 2) I'm not likely to ever go to New York City again.

So, WHEEEEEEE!!! GO FOR IT BLOOMBERG YOU CRAZY OLD BASTARD!!
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:10 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure most of us realize just how vast the increase in restaurant/fast food serving size has been over the past 60 years or so. This article was quite an eye opener for me when I saw it last week. Bloomberg's proposal might seem a bit authoritarian, but I don't think it's a bad idea to encourage our society to reconsider what an "appropriate" serving size looks like.

I wasn't alive 60 years ago, but the change in my lifetime has been dramatic. The article linked in this comment mentioned the invention of the Big Gulp. I can clearly remember the first time I saw one; my friends and I were agog at the idea of a cup bigger than your head. In my life, the sizes of small/medium/large have grown dramatically, and it's clear when I go to a fast food place how their pricing structure is pushing for MORE MORE MORE; buying modest-sized servings takes a force of will because it is uneconomic, getting less per dollar, the opposite of what I am always doing at the grocery store.

And the resentment that kicks in whenever Bloomberg tries a new strategy (oh, you like parks? No smoking in them!) keeps me puffing away. It's like the man has never heard of reverse psychology. Nobody takes up smoking because they think it's healthy. It's a form of rebellion, and the more you "punish" smokers, the more they cling to their nicotine.

I can remember hearing the same thing from friends who smoked back when the early taxes and restrictions started to kick in. (Much of it is unexceptional now, like banning vending machine sales, but it was a big deal then.) They all said the same thing, that they smoked to give it to the Man and restrictions and taxes would just make them smoke more. But national numbers show that they were wrong, and anecdotally a bunch of the people I know have quit, too.
posted by Forktine at 1:11 PM on May 31, 2012


And the resentment that kicks in whenever Bloomberg tries a new strategy (oh, you like parks? No smoking in them!) keeps me puffing away. It's like the man has never heard of reverse psychology. Nobody takes up smoking because they think it's healthy. It's a form of rebellion, and the more you "punish" smokers, the more they cling to their nicotine.
Part of it is really just the fact that non-smokers just don't like to be around people smoking. Banning smoking in parks isn't done to benefit smokers or help them quit, it's done so that people who don't like smelling cigarette smoke can go to the park without smelling it.
I'm not suggesting I should keep smoking cigarettes until I die of emphysema. I'm just saying that sometimes resentment can get in the way of a person making lifestyle changes.
Again though, it's not about you. The people who don't want smoking in parks don't care if you puff away so long as you do it away from them. Banning smoking in parks seems a little over the top to me personally, but I do know that before my home town banned smoking in bars it was kind of pain to go out. My clothes would be all nasty and in some cases I'd put them out on the balcony to air out rather then hang them up in my closet with the rest of my stuff.

Then when they put in a smoking ban it was amazing I didn't have to worry about it at all.

It had nothing to do with health effects of 2nd hand smoke for me, it was just the total nastiness of it, and the fact that it was so heavy inside bars and whatnot. I think these days there are probably a lot of people who don't want to even smell a hint of it. (Actually, when I was a kid my piano teacher said she was allergic to it and could tell if someone was smoking in the house next door) Some people are probably really paranoid about cancer (look at the concerns over backscatter x-ray machines, which are probably less carcinogenic then even just a whiff of cigarette smoke)

And the thing is, the less you smell cigarette smoke the more noticeable it is. It's something I rarely, rarely smell anymore and I pick up on it right away if someone is smoking nearby.

Plus, there is probably a psychological effect of all the anti-smoking ads that try to make smoking 'disgusting'. For non-smokers, hearing those messages is going to turn a smell that they might think of as just another smell into something that's really unpleasant, like smelling shit or rancid meat. You probably wouldn't want to hang out in a park that smelled like raw sewage, so for some people that's what cigarettes smell like now.

So anyway, the point is those bans are not at all about getting people to quit smoking. They are about people who hardly ever smell cigarette smoke and are disgusted by it. As fewer and fewer people smoke, and do so less and less in public, the smell is going to stand out more and more and people are going to take offense to it.

So banning smoking in parks isn't a paternalistic attempt to get people to quit, it's pandering to the more and more people who are simply disgusted by the smell. They don't care about you and whether or not you smoke, so long as you don't do it around them.

Anyway, resentment is a completely ridiculous reason to smoke. It's not even like you're going to cost people more money in healthcare costs because supposedly smokers actually end up costing less in healthcare costs because they die early rather then getting old and requiring a lot of treatment.
Absolutely. Coke Zero tastes horrible to me, as does any other soda with artificial sweeteners. (Apparently I am some sort of rare breed of aspartame supertaster.) Besides, aspartame is one of my migraine triggers.
There are diet pops out there these days that use Sucralose (also known as splenda) rather then aspartame. Supposedly it tastes more 'sugar like'. I thought coke zero might but Wikipedia says it actually varies sweeteners by region. So I suppose it might contain aspartame.
Absolutely. I'll avoid both poisons (and both products of a company with a strong fascist leanings), but I'd MUCH rather have sugar or HFCS than whatever the hell chemicals are in diet sodas.
See, this kind of thing is just ridiculous. Aspartame is protein made from Aspartic Acid and Phenylalanine, two of the 20 amino acids from which all cellular structures in all life on earth is made. Your body produces Asparic acid on it's own, while humans actually need to consume Phenylalanine from other sources, or else they would die.

So the only way you could avoid eating Aspartic acid and phenylalanine would be to avoid eating any plants or animals (or anything else made from living mater, like fungi or bacteria). And also you would die.

Aspartame is a regular protein food, and it does have calories, however, it's 200 times sweeter then sugar, so you only use a negligible amount.
posted by delmoi at 1:12 PM on May 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have to say this just about the most American thread I've ever seen.
posted by kaspen at 1:16 PM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Aspartame is a regular protein food, and it does have calories, however, it's 200 times sweeter then sugar, so you only use a negligible amount.

It still tastes like grunge scraped late at night from the asscrack of that guy who has been sitting down at the end of the bar since five minutes after it opened and who hasn't showered since last week. Diet soda seems to taste great to most people, but one inadvertent sip and I'm grimacing and spitting.
posted by Forktine at 1:17 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have to say this just about the most American thread I've ever seen.

Check out the graph of international per capita consumption in this pdf from Coke, or in this map.
posted by Forktine at 1:22 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, if you want a more "natural" non-caloric sweetener there's stevia which is made from a plant. The extract was only recently approved for use in the us for some reason (2006). Supposedly this was because no one wanted to pay for it to be tested. Who knows.

Anyway, you could mix your own drinks and add that stuff if you want. There is still an 'extraction process' but it sounds pretty simple:
A has the least bitterness of all the steviol glycosides in the stevia plant. To produce rebaudioside A commercially, stevia plants are dried and subjected to a water extraction process. This crude extract contains about 50% rebaudioside A; its various glycoside molecules are separated via crystallization techniques, typically using ethanol or methanol as solvent. This allows the manufacturer to isolate pure rebaudioside A
But, if people were to see "rebaudioside A" on the packaging of some low-cal beverage they'd probably think it was some terrible "chemical" that was "worse then sugar".

I'm not sure why this stuff isn't used more, maybe it tastes weird or is expensive.
It still tastes like grunge scraped late at night from the asscrack of that guy who has been sitting down at the end of the bar since five minutes after it opened and who hasn't showered since last week. Diet soda seems to taste great to most people, but one inadvertent sip and I'm grimacing and spitting.
It's a lot less bitter then alchohol, but people don't seem to mind that in their drinks. I think it is something you have to get used too, but once you do a lot of regular soda is just way too intense. For me it's OK once in a while but it just seems so thick and syrupy, while diet soda is light and crisp tasting. It's it feels like you're just drinking pure sugar out of the bag.

But again, it's not an immediate thing, it does take a little getting used too the way you do with alchohol.

And there are other options if you don't like the taste of aspartame.
posted by delmoi at 1:27 PM on May 31, 2012


Is anyone OK with Bloomberg, say, banning sales of video games because they contribute to an unhealthy sedentary lifestyle?

Only the ones that come in really big cups.
posted by audi alteram partem at 2:24 PM on May 31 [+] [!]


Fine, I'll play along. The government can mandate that all video games be limited to 30 minutes of gameplay per day. It's for your own good. Now go outside and play, you unhealthy bastards!
posted by rocket88 at 1:44 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


> I quit smoking because I moved to a state where cigarettes were 5 bucks a pack.

I wonder what happened in Canada about 10 years ago when they went to TEN bucks a pack?
posted by Listener at 1:45 PM on May 31, 2012


The government can mandate that all video games be limited to 30 minutes of gameplay per day. It's for your own good. Now go outside and play, you unhealthy bastards!

Actually that's not comparable at all. It would be more like ruling that stores were only allowed to sell video games in which gameplay was unlimited, but metered out in 30 minute increments so that you'd have reminders to take breaks.
posted by hermitosis at 1:47 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ahem.
posted by griphus at 1:48 PM on May 31, 2012


Is diet soda bad for you?
No - there are no studies that indicate any long-term health risks from drinking diet soda. Diet Soda (defined as calorie free carbonated beverages sweetened with aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame-potassium, or other non-caloric or minimally caloric sweeteners) is not harmful to health, well-being, or body composition.[1]
posted by ludwig_van at 2:34 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is it still illegal to keep a ferret in New York City?
posted by bukvich at 2:34 PM on May 31, 2012


Coke's response:

"The people of New York City are much smarter than the New York City Health Department believes. We are transparent with our consumers. They can see exactly how many calories are in every beverage we serve. We have prominently placed calorie counts on the front of our bottles and cans and in New York City, restaurants already post the calorie content of all their offerings and portion sizes — including soft drinks.
New Yorkers expect and deserve better than this. They can make their own choices about the beverages they purchase. We hope New Yorkers loudly voice their disapproval about this arbitrary mandate."

posted by HuronBob at 2:56 PM on May 31, 2012


They are caramel-colored with their consumers at best.
posted by hermitosis at 3:04 PM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


"That giant Coca-Cola bottle. I want you to ban anything that big. That may change things around here."
"That's nanny stateism."
"Can you possibly imagine what is going to happen to you, your frame, outlook, way of life, and everything, when they learn that you have obstructed the mayor's attempt to better public health? Can you imagine? Ban it! Ban! With a pen! That's what the ink is for, you twit!"
"Okay. I'm gonna ban those bottles for ya. But if the citizens complain, you know what's gonna happen to you?"
"What?"
"You're gonna have to answer to the Coca-Cola company."
posted by griphus at 3:11 PM on May 31, 2012


Is it still illegal to keep a ferret in New York City?

Only if it smokes more than a pack a day.
posted by elizardbits at 3:26 PM on May 31, 2012


How close to a public park can I smoke my ferret?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:27 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't want any part of your perversions griphus
posted by The Whelk at 3:37 PM on May 31, 2012


but what about my griphus/whelk/ferret fanfic?
posted by elizardbits at 3:47 PM on May 31, 2012


What happens on LiveJournal stays on LiveJournal.
posted by griphus at 3:49 PM on May 31, 2012


I have to say this just about the most American thread I've ever seen.

Check out the graph of international per capita consumption in this pdf from Coke, or in this map.


Honestly it's not even about the soda for me, but about these fruitless back and forths about tyranny and regulation etc. The comparison was made in this thread that oh if they can regulate HFCS water serving sizes then by god next they'll be thinking they can regulate my driving! And it's like, yeah, they already do and they should way more. When future Global Warming struck generations look to us and say what the fuck why did you break the world, there's going to be this thread right here, for all of virtual eternity's oubliette longtail, and this insidious attitude that consumption is liberty in a lifestyle economy that is completely structured and subsidized and monopoly marketed in every possible way. Gas is not cheap! Sugar is not cheap! These are decisions that invested interests make for us and when they turn altogether genocidal in their reach, we think we are dying the glorious deaths of the righteous. I know that's a bit much to say about a tempest in a big gulp cup, but this rhetoric is everywhere and is absolutely the cause for the structural ills in American politics and their place in the world.
posted by kaspen at 3:58 PM on May 31, 2012 [11 favorites]


From my point of view, if you agree that the government can regulate what you put in your mouth, you're ceding control of your other, more religiously controversial orifices in the bargain.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:03 PM on May 31, 2012


From my point of view, if you agree that the government can regulate what you put in your mouth ...

But of course, this law does nothing of the sort.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:11 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


...if you agree that the government can regulate what you put in your mouth, you're ceding control of your other, more religiously controversial orifices in the bargain.

Except this is about regulating the size of the container holding what goes in your mouth. Perhaps jumbo condoms are also on Bloomberg's radar?
posted by audi alteram partem at 4:13 PM on May 31, 2012


Yes, technically it regulates what you can put in your hand (cup size). But either it is supposed to have an effect on what you drink or not, many in this thread seem to want to read it both ways.

If it makes no difference, then doing it is a waste of money (enforcement, etc). If it does make a difference, then it is intending to make something difficult enough to discourage it heavily. Reminds me of disguised anti-abortion laws that while technically making it legal to have an abortion make you jump through a lot of hoops to discourage it. Same idea here, only it's about amount of soda consumption (which has a different political skew).
posted by wildcrdj at 4:15 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


supposed to have an effect

Yes. That effect being reducing consumption, not banning consumption. Not all government regulations have the effect or intent of making activities so onerous as to eliminate them. I think this soda-cup size limit falls in that category.
posted by audi alteram partem at 4:20 PM on May 31, 2012


Sure, but I think making such a decision for people is a bad thing. Its effect is to make it difficult/ onerous to consume more than a certain amount of soda. I don't think the government should be micromanaging people's diets like that, especially when the effect is mostly personal (cost issues are irrelevant to me since if THAT argument is accepted the government should be able to regulate your exercise, diet, medical, etc habits to a degree few would accept). Environmental issues are different because of the direct effects on others (polluting a river affects a large number of people. Polluting your body is personal).
posted by wildcrdj at 4:23 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Reminds me of disguised anti-abortion laws that while technically making it legal to have an abortion make you jump through a lot of hoops to discourage it.

I had a similar argument about this with my partner, who likened it instead to legal finagling to diminish gay rights. To which I say, when it comes to changing public opinion (or at least their behavior) in any direction, on any issue, there's simply a very limited range of ways for governments and elected officials go about it. That's because the legal/judicial/legislative systems have been finely tuned to try and organize these sorts of attempts.

Yeah, the system cuts both ways. And it is flawed in so many ways that we don't even know how to fix it, and on top of that there are powers with a vested interest in it NOT being fixed who will fight every step of the way.

Comparing your right to a certain size drink container to a rollback of reproductive or civil rights is pretty flimsy. Yes, politicians try to undercut certain established activities by clinching them off at the source. That's how it all works. The comparison pretty much ends there. Meanwhile, as others have pointed out, regulating commerce is nothing new, and mayors taking unpopular action in the interest of public health as a last resort isn't new either.
posted by hermitosis at 4:26 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


either it is supposed to have an effect on what you drink or not

Yes, it is intended to have an effect on the volume of soda that people consume, but it does not do this by inhibiting choice or by making belittling assumptions about the intelligence of the consumer. If you look into the research presented above about the subconscious effects of size and shape of serving container, you'll see that the point is precisely that people aren't making rational decisions. If anything I would argue people's capacity for choice is being reinforced here because you have to actually make the decision to portion yourself more. It's this blind faith in a mythic free market and free actors that disturbs me. Everything is rigged and not all decisions are actually decided.
posted by kaspen at 4:26 PM on May 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


consumption is liberty

I don't think Orwell saw that one coming, but then few people saw corporations replacing democracies and dictating laws (or, at least, manipulating populist sentiment towards "hands off our soda fountain" attitudes, to the same end — namely, consuming an endless stream of garbage in the name of freedom).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:36 PM on May 31, 2012


(cost issues are irrelevant to me since if THAT argument is accepted the government should be able to regulate your exercise, diet, medical, etc habits to a degree few would accept.)

I don't see how this follows. Every proposed regulation asks us where we'd like to draw the line. If the cup size ban goes into effect, that doesn't mean the government will be running us through morning calisthenics in front of an all-seeing telescreen.
posted by audi alteram partem at 4:38 PM on May 31, 2012


i think congress should ban all cities larger than 4 million people - it causes poor choices and obesity in government
posted by pyramid termite at 4:51 PM on May 31, 2012


Is anyone OK with Bloomberg, say, banning sales of video games because they contribute to an unhealthy sedentary lifestyle?

More appropriately and comparatively; restrict the number of hours cable TV service is available per day.

when I read the article I was reminded of that cliche joke about the person going to a fast food place, ordering the double cheeseburger, large fries, apple pie and Diet Coke.

This joke was always ignorant. A large Coke, especially in the buckets that some American fast food restuarants consider Large, can easily be equal to the calories of the rest of the that meal. If someone ordered a large water with that meal no one would think it funny.
posted by Mitheral at 4:58 PM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


If society at large hadn't gone hog wild on dirt cheap calories and ballooned into large numbers of overweight people, thus demonstrating the need for some token level of guidance, we wouldn't be in this situation.

I think that's a bad assumption. Society, as a whole, did not consciously decide to eat lots and lots of unhealthy food. When the quality of food in this country began to decline, those in the middle class and above ponied up for healthier fare, while people of modest means bought the food they could afford. The quality of the food available to lower classes at what they are able to pay has steadily decreased over time. They're not stupid. Or are you someone who believes that below a certain income level, people in general are less intelligent?

But, we were talking about New York banning Big Gulps. I don't think in terms of a societal collective, I think in terms of the individual, and this stupid ban effects me personally. This will take away something I like from me. It's trivial, I admit. But I don't like it, and I never, ever will.
posted by KHAAAN! at 5:00 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


movie theaters

So instead of a buying a 32 oz drink for $3.00 and sharing it with my s/o, I'd have to buy two 16 oz drinks for $2.50 apiece? I think I see the real winners here.

I think I'll stay home, download some torrents, and drink some MD 20/20.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:00 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm looking forward to this catching on and spreading. I usually get a small soda at the fast food joints, since I usually use the drive through and my cup holders are small. I can't fit those large cups in them. But I still want the 32 oz. I can't wait for the new specials to be a burger, fries, and 2 large drinks. The cokes will come in a nice 2 pack holder that I can put on the passenger seat.

Also looking forward to how when this doesn't help, it'll be extended into more restrictions. Because if there's one thing we do well in the US, governing-wise, is that if something doesn't work, double down!
posted by Bort at 5:02 PM on May 31, 2012


>>>when I read the article I was reminded of that cliche joke about the person going to a fast food place, ordering the double cheeseburger, large fries, apple pie and Diet Coke.

>>>This joke was always ignorant. A large Coke, especially in the buckets that some American fast food restuarants consider Large, can easily be equal to the calories of the rest of the that meal. If someone ordered a large water with that meal no one would think it funny.


Not sure where this is coming from. Using McDonalds as the example, the breakdown is as follows:

Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese = 740 Calories
Large Fries = 500 calories (more if you use ketchup - 15 calories a packet)
Apple Pie = 250 calories

(TOTAL MEAL CALORIES = 1490)

Large (32 oz.) Coke = 310 calories

Not that the extra 310 calories are good for you or anything, just trying to illustrate how completely token the ban is in terms of really addressing bad dietary habits.
posted by The Gooch at 5:28 PM on May 31, 2012


If the mayor declares war on french fries next, it is SO ON! Keep your hands off my deep-fried taters, Bloomberg!!!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:48 PM on May 31, 2012


ludwig_van: No - there are no studies that indicate any long-term health risks from drinking diet soda.

"They found that diet soda drinkers' waists grew 70 percent more than non-drinkers. Specifically, drinking two or more diet sodas a day busted belt sizes five times more than people who avoided the stuff entirely."
posted by Hairy Lobster at 5:49 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyone who has ever met me would say that I am a big eater, but I don't think that 1800-kcal McDonald's meal is realistic even for me.

just trying to illustrate how completely token the ban is in terms of really addressing bad dietary habits.

Actually, a sugar-sweetened beverages are quite different from the other things involved because they have little effect on satiety. Drinking an additional 310 kcal of dissolved glucose and fructose is not going to make anyone feel full, and decreases insulin sensitivity.

Malik VS, Schulze MB, Hu FB. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Aug;84(2):274-88. Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systematic review:
The prevailing evidence suggests that weight gain arises because compensation at subsequent meals for energy consumed in the form of a liquid could be less complete than that for energy consumed in the form of a solid, most likely because of the low satiety of liquid foods (20). For example, DiMeglio and Mattes (44) showed that consumption of 1180 kJ soda/d resulted in significantly greater weight gain than did consumption of an isocaloric solid carbohydrate load. Others have reported similar findings (60, 61). Many studies have shown a connection between consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and total energy intake, which supports the notion that, when persons increase liquid carbohydrate consumption, they do not concomitantly reduce their solid food consumption (9, 11, 21, 25, 35, 37, 39, 62-67). For example, Schulze et al (41) reported that women who increased their intake of sugar-sweetened beverages also increased their total caloric consumption by an average of 358 kcal/d and that most of the excess calories were contributed by soda.
posted by grouse at 5:52 PM on May 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


(Still laughing at someone who tried to establish Healthful Street Cred here by talking about being a passionate low carber. Sigh. )
posted by raysmj at 6:29 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pretty much a transparent attack on Grey's Papaya. Yes, Mr Mayor, I do need my grape drink by the gallon.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:45 PM on May 31, 2012


As 7-11 is exempt, and there are only like 10 of them, and pizza places have what I consider woefully undersized drinks, I think this effects just about nowhere but movie theatres and mcdonalds.

There is going to be a way around it anyway if it effected mom and pop places, sell the soda with a lid with no straw hole. If someone happens to use the knife on the counter to cut a hole who is going to stop them?
posted by Ad hominem at 6:52 PM on May 31, 2012


I'm going to make a blind guess that anyone who supports this probably doesn't drink soda, or if they do, they drink it in limited portions. In other words, they won't be affected. So if you support this, my question to you is thus: which of your bad habits would you support being outlawed?
posted by Edgewise at 7:29 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


As 7-11 is exempt

The one around the corner here in NYC has giant mugs that are insulated, so presumably they might last all day for those guys walking the skyscraper beams, that can't get back down every few hours.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:29 PM on May 31, 2012


John Cohen: If the government gets to decide which behaviors are so dumb that you need to be protected from your own decisions, that doesn't resemble any definition of "liberty" or "liberal" that I would recognize.

rocket88: I'm frankly surprised Metafilter has so many fans of authoritarian government.

I'm not a fan of this ban, and I'm probably more sympathetic than most to the goals of libertarianism, but it is really wearying when libertarians pretend to be surprised that not everybody is a libertarian. The definition of "liberal" that most people in the United States in 2012 recognize involves tons of prohibitions on individual behavior (as does the definition of "conservative," of course.) Employers and employees aren't allowed to enter into a voluntary contract to work for below minimum wage, for instance. A company's not allowed to sell me a drug the FDA says is poisonous and ineffective, even if I want to buy it. It's fine if you want to disagree with those stances -- but it just seems weird to deny it's not completely normal for people who call themselves "liberal" to support minimum wage and drug regulation, and plenty of other constraints on liberty, as a matter of course.

As for "fans of authoritarian government" -- again, it's fine if you want to denote the Big Gulp ban as such, but if you do, then you're kind of committing yourself to calling every member of the Republican or Democratic party a fan of authoritarian government, because the mainstream of both parties supports regulating people's behavior for their own good in innumerable ways. And it's also fine to take that position! But Republicans and Democrats make up most of the US population, and the US makes up most of MetaFilter, and so it's really hard for me to get how anyone would be surprised by this.
posted by escabeche at 7:33 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


which of your bad habits would you support being outlawed?

MetaFilter, of course. Save me from myself, Mr. Mayor!
posted by escabeche at 7:34 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, this probably says more about me than anything else but I think it is just another in a long list of laws we have in New York, not to mention te rest of the US. In New York we can't buy wine in the supermarket or on Sunday, we can't own ferrets or squirrels, I'm pretty sure propane tanks are banned in parts of New York, and I've never seen a dispose-all. I'm not 100% but I think they are illegal.

Everyone will just find a way around it, like the people who go on craigslist to find propane smugglers for the grills on their roof decks.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:59 PM on May 31, 2012


escabeche: I'm only a libertarian in the true, non-Randian sense. On the left-right axis I'm firmly left. By all means the government has a mandate to prevent injustices and correct inequities, including redistributing wealth to a larger degree than they are now. I just think the issue of how big a soft drink container is falls well short of that mandate. This is simply not what we need a government for. It's not that I want to preserve the massive soft drinks, either; I don't drink them. But if I don't support the right of others to enjoy their chosen bad habits, how can I defend my own?
posted by rocket88 at 8:21 PM on May 31, 2012


The thing with diet Coke is that many people (wrongly) assume that it's healthier than regular Coke so they end up drinking more of it.
posted by littlesq at 8:25 PM on May 31, 2012


Everyone will just find a way around it ...

(1) The proposed ban is not a general prohibition of soda. So, it is very unlikely to encourage the kind of black market activity that you see with outright prohibition. For instance, you are not going to see soda speakeasies.

(2) For many things that are outright prohibited, the government realizes that there will be a black market. Black markets in many cases are okay because it is not true that everyone participates in black markets. Some people -- maybe even lots of people -- do participate, but not everyone. For instance, about 7% of the U.S. population used marijuana in the last month, according to the NSDUH. Going out on a limb, I will guess that if marijuana were legal, much more than 7% would use it. Prohibitions do affect behavior.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 8:32 PM on May 31, 2012


The thing with diet Coke is that many people (wrongly) assume that it's healthier than regular Coke so they end up drinking more of it.

Wait, so I'm sorry to be naive here, but why isn't diet Coke healthier than regular Coke?
posted by escabeche at 8:52 PM on May 31, 2012


KHAAAN! writes "I don't think in terms of a societal collective, I think in terms of the individual, and this stupid ban effects me personally. This will take away something I like from me. It's trivial, I admit. But I don't like it, and I never, ever will."

I can relate; it totally pisses me off that I can't buy a PPK here every time I think about it.
posted by Mitheral at 9:40 PM on May 31, 2012


I would be pretty entertained by a law that required all sugar-based sodas to be purchased only by over-21-year-olds.

I'd be pretty entertained by a law that required all sugar-based sodas to be at least 3.2% alcohol by volume.

It's basically self-limiting!

[Note that the limit may vary significantly.]
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:43 PM on May 31, 2012


I can relate; it totally pisses me off that I can't buy a PPK here every time I think about it.

I'd be happy to work out a swap with you: PPKs for healthcare. We can meet at the border for the exchange.
posted by Forktine at 9:59 PM on May 31, 2012


Huh. I'm obese according to my BMI, which is 36.1 right now. That's been my BMI for the past several years, give or take the minor fluctuations that would come along with monthly hormonal bloating. And yet, I look like this, which is a far cry from the haunting spectre of the headless fatty that tends to be the "face" of obesity per your local TV news station. I've looked like that for a long time. And I haven't been a sugary beverage drinker in over a decade. So how would a law like this fix a damn thing for me, or for the millions of people like me in this country who are perfectly healthy except for the bullshit label slapped on them by an overly simplistic measurement chart?

There are more obese people like me in this country than there are the headless fatty type that gets everyone moralizing all over these stupid threads every time this issue comes up on Metafilter. But that never seems to occur to the people who are so eager to share their benevolent wisdom about how fat people need to live their lives.
posted by palomar at 11:42 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Which of your bad habits would you support being outlawed?

Speeding. Incorrect disposal of batteries. Etc. A variety of prohibitions serve to actually improve the quality of my life.
posted by Winnemac at 12:02 AM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Government regulation of what restaurants and fast food joints are allowed to sell? Heavens to betsy, have the founding fathers lived and died in vain?
posted by MartinWisse at 1:16 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


One Mayor, Two Cups
posted by chavenet at 3:52 AM on June 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


consumption is liberty

Someone should tell the folks who worship the noun "market" about those who worship the verb. If the ``free market'' has been perfectly aggregating our ``rationally chosen'' preferences, why there is so much low-quality, insipid, pointless, boring, poisonous crap for sale?
posted by kengraham at 5:14 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Someone should tell the folks who worship the noun "market" about those who worship the verb. If the ``free market'' has been perfectly aggregating our ``rationally chosen'' preferences, why there is so much low-quality, insipid, pointless, boring, poisonous crap for sale?

Because there are a lot of stupid people out there?
posted by gyc at 5:26 AM on June 1, 2012


So how would a law like this fix a damn thing for me...

Why should it? You've said you're not a soda drinker.

posted by mrgrimm at 5:36 AM on June 1, 2012


If they gave you your giant soda pop with the sugar on the side instead of premixed, you would be appalled at how much sugar you have to stir into it to make it as sugary as usual.

I actually love this idea.


Here are pictures
.
posted by pracowity at 6:00 AM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Honestly it's not even about the soda for me, but about these fruitless back and forths about tyranny and regulation etc. The comparison was made in this thread that oh if they can regulate HFCS water serving sizes then by god next they'll be thinking they can regulate my driving! And it's like, yeah, they already do and they should way more. When future Global Warming struck generations look to us and say what the fuck why did you break the world, there's going to be this thread right here, for all of virtual eternity's oubliette longtail, and this insidious attitude that consumption is liberty in a lifestyle economy that is completely structured and subsidized and monopoly marketed in every possible way. Gas is not cheap! Sugar is not cheap! These are decisions that invested interests make for us and when they turn altogether genocidal in their reach, we think we are dying the glorious deaths of the righteous. I know that's a bit much to say about a tempest in a big gulp cup, but this rhetoric is everywhere and is absolutely the cause for the structural ills in American politics and their place in the world.

I have never agreed with anything so hard in my life. This is how come America is able to be blessed with virtually infinite advantages and remain at the very same time helpless to fix any of its problems. A huge number of even the amazingly few people who perceive these things as problems and want to see them fixed still think there's something immoral about actually deliberately doing things to create the kind of society they want to live in, where people aren't crippled by illness and sheer enormousness in order to fill up Coca Cola's sticky pockets. But shaping your world - after consideration, on purpose, with rules and everything - is what civilisation is all about.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 7:16 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are more obese people like me in this country than there are the headless fatty type that gets everyone moralizing all over these stupid threads every time this issue comes up on Metafilter. But that never seems to occur to the people who are so eager to share their benevolent wisdom about how fat people need to live their lives.

Hence the general lack of any consensus on how to discuss weight issues in America, much less a doctor's office. Extra weight, like a lot of things (bad sleep, smoking, diet) rarely has any impact on a person's sense of well-being in their twenties, even into their thirties (I'm hazarding a guess that that picture puts you somewhere in that range). But carry that BMI into your forties and beyond and I promise you the average person is going to suffer consequences that are miserable. And more disturbingly, they are medical conditions we completely SUCK at treating or making any headway for - chronic pain, sleep apnea. As well as the fact that common treatable conditions like hypertension require twice as much medical therapy to get even marginal results, so the high blood pressure is never really controlled as it should be, just kept on enough of a leash it doesn't kill you right away.

Of course this assumes that your weight doesn't continue to climb, which is almost never the case for anyone, regardless of genetics, between their 20's and 40's.

I was at an orchestra recital last night. It was about 80 degrees in the gym due to an unusual warm day here in Oregon, i.e. the temp touched about 75 two days in a row. More than half the room was made up of men and women in their 40's into their 60's who were clearly obese. They had to cut the recital short because people were clearly so uncomfortable from the "heat", fanning themselves with programs and groaning softly between pieces of music. It was fucking bizarre. Perhaps that sounds judgemental to you, and perhaps it is, but it's also incredibly frightening to consider how we are evolving as a race of people.
posted by docpops at 7:54 AM on June 1, 2012


Me: Which of your bad habits would you support being outlawed?

Winnemac: Speeding. Incorrect disposal of batteries. Etc. A variety of prohibitions serve to actually improve the quality of my life.

This is genuinely disenheartening. Don't you see a distinction between prohibitions against things that hurt society overall, and prohibitions against things that only hurt the perpetrator? I totally agree with your examples, but not because they improve your personal quality of life. Do you think that laws against murder were to protect potential murderers from their own sense of guilt? Laws against speeding and improper battery disposal are not in place to protect speeders and litterbugs. What a backwards way of looking at things!

By using this justification for prohibitions and lumping them in with a legal restriction on soda portions, you're conforming to the worst conservative stereotypes of the liberal who wants a "nanny state" to save him from himself. This is especially troubling to me because I'm not a conservative, and when conservatives trot out these tired stereotypes, I think "C'mon, you're not talking about real people; just the bugbears of your own imagination." I feel like a conservative who has just discovered that there really are racist republicans. Please reconsider your reasoning, lest I am obliged to apologize to some republicans.
posted by Edgewise at 8:41 AM on June 1, 2012


Yes, docpops. I am 34, which you can see by looking at my Metafilter profile. You can also see from my comment history that I was a fat teenager, a fat young woman, and that my weight history is this: I was put on bullshit diets authorized by people like you, but I never lost weight until I QUIT DIETING, which was about a decade ago. Since I quit dieting, my weight has finally stabilized and I've been at the same weight for about the past decade, give or take the normal monthly weight fluctuations that come with female hormonal changes. (You know, menstruation?)

As for your assertion that I'm probably going to balloon to a huge size in the next several years as I age... maybe. But looking at my grandmother, I doubt it. See, she grew up chunky. She's always been kind of chunky. She's shrinking in height now, because she's 84 this fall, but... she wears a size 12/14, and has for the past 30 years. Her weight never ballooned when she hit her 40's. She stayed the same. As has everyone else in my family. We're built solid, but we don't balloon.

And this is why I have never trusted your opinion on these issues. You can't get past your bias about fat, you assume that if someone is heavier than YOU think is healthy, that they're going to get sick eventually because that's just what happens. Except it hasn't happened to anyone in my family, no one I am related to has diabetes even though they're heavier than you think is healthy, none of your scary proclamations have ever come true for anyone I know. So... why should I heed your words? Why should I even believe your story about a gym full of obese people? Why is it that when I go out in my community, I never see the terrifying hordes of fatties that you seem to be confronted with every time you step out of your home?
posted by palomar at 9:03 AM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


What about those studies that I read saying diet soda was bad?

Most likely that was a survey or epidemiological research.


LOL. Oh, epidemiology, yeah, nobody pays attention to that...

I feel like a conservative who has just discovered that there really are racist republicans.

Watch out. Some of us are communists too.

The thing with diet Coke is that many people (wrongly) assume that it's healthier than regular Coke so they end up drinking more of it.

Wait, so I'm sorry to be naive here, but why isn't diet Coke healthier than regular Coke?


I think the questions there would be:

1. Does the diet nature of the drink encourage extra consumption and if so, how much?
2. How does that extra consumption affect the rest of the diet?

There's been some research suggesting a secondary effect of diet soda in that they encourage further overconsumption (regardless of the clearly unknown effects of the sweetener chemicals.) (Now I see someone linked the UT study above...)
posted by mrgrimm at 9:04 AM on June 1, 2012


Someone should tell the folks who worship the noun "market" about those who worship the verb. If the ``free market'' has been perfectly aggregating our ``rationally chosen'' preferences, why there is so much low-quality, insipid, pointless, boring, poisonous crap for sale?

Seriously?

If there is some huge demand out there for something else, presumably high quality, meaningful, interesting, etc., then why isn't anyone providing it? Is it your position that it's impossible to provide what people actually want in a free market? Presumably then, Cuba and Venezuela are doing a better job at delivering high quality consumer goods to their citizens.

Have you considered the possibility that we get the culture we deserve? Maybe the aggregate demand really is for 'Jersey Shore' and the like?

-----

But shaping your world - after consideration, on purpose, with rules and everything - is what civilisation is all about.

No.

Civilization does not reduce down to someone imposing their will on others. It has much more to do with what's called 'spontaneous order' or 'emergence'. Be warned, reading on this topic may entail some exposure to arguments for free markets and personal liberty.

"Good order results spontaneously when things are let alone."
- Chuang Tzu
posted by BigSky at 9:13 AM on June 1, 2012


Don't you see a distinction between prohibitions against things that hurt society overall, and prohibitions against things that only hurt the perpetrator?

docpops didn't get to hear the whole recital because of other peoples' past soda consumption, though. Therefore, soda consumption fucks with more than just its perpetrators.
posted by kengraham at 9:19 AM on June 1, 2012


Fun sugar fact: Quakers in the 19the century refused to use cane sugar, as it was a product of slavery.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:27 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Don't you see a distinction between prohibitions against things that hurt society overall, and prohibitions against things that only hurt the perpetrator?

Sure, but the argument actually on offer is that the poor health of some individuals affects the wallets of others. As they say, no man is an island.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 9:28 AM on June 1, 2012


"Good order results spontaneously when things are let alone."

Yes, if "good order" means the sort of high-entropy situation in which everything is dead. Come on; the personally liberated rugged individual is completely devoted to not letting things alone. Otherwise, xe dies.

I'm a big proponent of personal liberty. That's why I think people should do something to reign in the giant corporations that prey on them and erode their personal liberty by shaping their environment in a way that tries to replace real agency with bullshit consumer choices. I'm not too excited that the only practical way for individual people to project their power is by using a giant, slow, stupid, corrupt, democratic machine, but in fact, at the moment, government does slightly more to defend (and probably more to abridge) personal liberty than the so-called "free" market does. This doesn't mean government regulation is always preferable, and in fact my emotional reaction is against Bloomberg's idea, but this is about, e.g. Coca-Cola vs. government, not Individual vs. government, and most governments actually have (slightly) more moral authority and good sense than Coca-Cola (except, perhaps, from the point of view of Coca-Cola's profits).
posted by kengraham at 9:31 AM on June 1, 2012


You know what else affects my wallet, i.e. my insurance premiums? When weekend warriors go out and grievously injure themselves being active without taking proper precautions, or without even being able to do the activity that they're doing. Fall off your bike and crack your head open on the curb because you didn't wear a helmet? That trickles down to me, via insurance premiums. Took your family whitewater rafting and everyone got hurt because nobody knows how to raft and you ran aground into sharp rocks? The ambulance and ER visit trickles down to me. Going rockclimbing? Look out, if you slip and fall and bash your face in against a cliff face, the trickle-down effect of rising insurance premiums will hit me.

Oh, and car accidents. Lots of people get hurt in car accidents, which affects my life in multiple ways, what with health and car insurance premiums rising, laws being enacted or dissolved, et cetera.

There are literally countless things that other people do every single day that somehow affect my life. When do I get laws that prevent all of this shit from happening, so that I am not impacted in any way? If this is fair and reasonable, why can't I have laws enacted that prevent people from going rockclimbing without proper training? Why can't I have laws enacted that prevent poor drivers from having valid licenses to drive? Why isn't the world set up exactly perfectly to benefit me as much as possible?
posted by palomar at 9:36 AM on June 1, 2012


Not to mention all those reckless people raising my insurance premiums by hurting themselves on slippery slopes.
posted by kengraham at 9:50 AM on June 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


LOL. Oh, epidemiology, yeah, nobody pays attention to that...

Did you read the rest of the page? The point being made is that there is no research which establishes diet soda as being causative of weight gain or any associated disorders.
Consequently, the previously observed diet soda–metabolic syndrome associations are generally speculated to be the result of residual confounding by other dietary behaviors, lifestyle factors, or demographic characteristics
The fact that unhealthy people frequently consume diet soda is not a sound basis upon which to declare that diet soda is the cause of ill health. For an obese person who consumes regular soda, switching to diet soda would be a beneficial dietary adjustment.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:18 AM on June 1, 2012


palomar - we have active efforts in place to try to curb as much of the inherent risk in all of the things you mentioned, and yet as you can see having a dialogue about reducing the threat to health from obesity can't happen because of all the reasons you see here. The danger of obesity currently is that it is such an unknown and growing threat. Imagine if the rate of head injuries in children were increasing 5% a year and no one could agree that head injuries were inherently a bad thing much less allow helmet laws in place because of anecdotal support for the neutrality or benefits of an occasional severe concussion or moreover the fact that tons of kids were injured but turned out just fine. That is the present obesity debate.

And you don't know jack shit about my prejudices or preconceived notions or anything else, so try to accept what I'm telling you as it is - unvarnished, and unaugmented. This isn't about you, this is about the larger issue of how to try to alter the insidious hydra of societal behaviors and influences that is turning more kids every day into miniature adult diabetics and future liver transplant victims.
posted by docpops at 10:23 AM on June 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


"Good order results spontaneously when things are let alone."
- Chuang Tzu


The path of least resistance is followed spontaneously when things are let alone. Nothing "good" happens. Nothing "righteous" happens. The easy thing happens.

Then, because the path of least resistance is and followed and followed and followed, there's a channel dug. You can call the result an order, but you've no reason to call it a "good" order.

Maybe "good" is a dicey translation.
posted by Trochanter at 10:41 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Marijuana doesn't make your ass big.

My freshman year of college begs to differ.
posted by thivaia at 11:04 AM on June 1, 2012


If this is fair and reasonable, why can't I have laws enacted that prevent people from going rockclimbing without proper training?

WTF? Why should there be any recreational rock climbing, with or without proper training, at all? I don't have the actuarial tables in front of me right now, but I'm pretty sure the rate of injury during rock climbing, even when done by the trained, exceeds that of treadmill walkers. Someone's joy in spending a few hours bouldering don't mean shit to me. It is of equal personal utility as one of Coca-Cola's suckers (probably a child! just think of all those years of medical bills!) delight in indulging their carbonated syrup habit.

-----

Yes, if "good order" means the sort of high-entropy situation in which everything is dead. Come on; the personally liberated rugged individual is completely devoted to not letting things alone. Otherwise, xe dies.

You're missing the point. Spontaneous order is about the emergence of complex systems like markets, or traffic, or the original reference - civilization. We're not talking about whether someone should take action to stock their own refrigerator or let things be.

This doesn't mean government regulation is always preferable, and in fact my emotional reaction is against Bloomberg's idea, but this is about, e.g. Coca-Cola vs. government, not Individual vs. government, and most governments actually have (slightly) more moral authority and good sense than Coca-Cola (except, perhaps, from the point of view of Coca-Cola's profits).

This is also government vs. individual. In my experience, the consumer has been a willing participant in most large cup of soda purchases. It is precisely because these are voluntary transactions that the government does not have more moral authority than Coca-Cola. It has less.

That's why I think people should do something to reign in the giant corporations that prey on them and erode their personal liberty by shaping their environment in a way that tries to replace real agency with bullshit consumer choices.

Once the government finished interfering, what would this "real agency" look like? As far as I can tell, you're saying that by taking away an individual's ability to enter into voluntary agreements with "giant" (what the mid-size corporations get a pass?) corporations, the government is actually increasing that person's autonomy.

Seriously? That sure sounds like some "we had to destroy the village in order to save it" logic to me.

It's real easy to dismiss everyone's concern as an paranoid fear of slippery slopes when it's all aligned with your own preferences. Me? I'm still shocked the government sees that it is somehow their place to dictate to business owners that on their own private property, they can't permit their customers to engage in a legal activity, namely smoking. Ten years ago this ban on inappropriately sized soda containers would have sounded right about as silly as the rest of the possibilities in this thread. Let's also remember that with greater government involvement in health care, the case for meddling in individuals' decisions that could affect their health has been strengthened.

-----

Then, because the path of least resistance is and followed and followed and followed, there's a channel dug. You can call the result an order, but you've no reason to call it a "good" order.

It results in a growing network of channels serving to meet the self-directed goals of all participants. At least in this context, that sure sounds like a fair approximation of "good" to me.
posted by BigSky at 11:08 AM on June 1, 2012


Bloomberg's edict strikes me as an overreach and is likely to be more costly than effective, I think, but this:

Spontaneous order is about the emergence of complex systems like markets, or traffic, or the original reference - civilization.

is no way to run a railroad, Kwai Chang Caine. There's no such thing as "spontaneous order" in human societies. There never has been, except by maybe a single person living alone. Human order among humans only happens when humans make that order, either by custom or by law or by force, or all three, usually, equitably or inequitably. People, in the aggregate, armed with laws and guns and money make your complex systems and keep those complex systems running. Possibly that's not the ideal political life, but that's the way it's been for the last ten thousand years or so.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:35 AM on June 1, 2012


[Folks, this needs to not turn into a one-on-one rehash of old arguments or anything like that. Please cool it.]
posted by cortex at 11:44 AM on June 1, 2012


In more hilarious news, according to my brand new scale which measures body composition and BMI, my BMI has dropped since this morning! Of course, I also just had a large bowel movement and weighed myself immediately after. But that BMI, it sure is a great measurement of health, huh?

BMI is calculated from height and weight; daily weight fluctuation is normal, and therefore so is BMI fluctuation.

Re the accuracy of BMI in diagnosing obesity, here are two studies which compare BMI measurements to bodyfat measurements.

Almost everyone (99% of women and 95% of men in the first study) who was classified as obese by BMI was also obese by bodyfat percentage. However, more than half the people who were obese by bodyfat percentage did not have obese BMIs. So the inaccuracy of BMI in diagnosing obesity seems to lie in the number of false negatives.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:46 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


It results in a growing network of channels serving to meet the self-directed goals of all participants. At least in this context, that sure sounds like a fair approximation of "good" to me.

In this context, it seems to have led to a bunch of pretty unhealthy people.
posted by Trochanter at 11:46 AM on June 1, 2012


You look great, palomar. You are clearly not obese, even though a BMI calculation might say that you are. That doesn't mean that BMI is completely bunk though. It's really only meant to measure generalized data over populations of people. It is known to not necessarily mean much on an individual bases.

Heck, I'm six feet tall, I run 20+ miles a week, I hike almost the same distance in the mountains on the weekends, I lift weights, and as of a few weeks ago I wear the same size pants I wore in high school more than twenty years ago. I'm in the best shape of my life. But if I stand on the scale in the morning and it reads 221 pounds, my BMI calculates to "obese." If it says 220 I'm merely overweight. Truth be told, I could stand to lose a few more pounds. But I'm just a big person. Even at optimum health I'm always going to trend larger than average.

I know another person whose insurance company is making her take "fat classes" or pay a higher premium because her BMI calculation says she's obese. Her actual doctor says she is in perfect health. It's total bullshit, and it's a complete misapplication of what BMI is supposed to be used for. But even that doesn't mean that BMI is useless for what it is intended to be used for. Having said that, I too would love to just toss it out the window, because I don't enjoy being counted as obese even when I know I'm not.
posted by Balonious Assault at 11:55 AM on June 1, 2012


I don't believe anyone really enjoys being unhealthy. I believe there are lots of things that all of us as individuals can do to improve our own health and to encourage other people to improve theirs. I think we can pretty much all agree that an increase in health and wellness is an admirable goal and a worthwhile endeavor and that we can work together toward that goal.

I don't believe that anyone can legislate good health, though, and it seems like that is the intention behind this ban. I believe if the city offered nutritional advice/consultation and fostered the development of more available, affordable and healthy food choices it would make a much larger impact on general health than banning large sodas.

Unemployed and economically-deprived individuals also affect "the wallets" of other citizens; how would people in favor of these measures feel about banning things that could cause poverty? How would you feel saying "Your inability to provide for your family without tax-subsidized assistance is costing me money." to someone living in poverty?
posted by nTeleKy at 12:04 PM on June 1, 2012


If they gave you your giant soda pop with the sugar on the side instead of premixed, you would be appalled at how much sugar you have to stir into it to make it as sugary as usual.

I don't know how appalled the average person would be. This is pretty well par for the course with any kind of baking and people who bake recreationally continue to do so.

Rhubarb is the first fruit that becomes available locally here in the spring. The traditional way to eat it in my family at this time is to bite a piece off and then dip the now slightly moist remaining stick into a bowl of sugar to get it coated. Rinse latter repeat until the rhubarb is gone. Kind of a home made Fun Dip.
posted by Mitheral at 1:16 PM on June 1, 2012


There's no such thing as "spontaneous order" in human societies.

There's numerous arguments to the contrary.

Wikipedia - Emergence in Humanity

Wikipedia - Examples of Spontaneous Order

John Stossel article on Spontaneous Order

Customary Law as Spontaneous Order
posted by BigSky at 1:26 PM on June 1, 2012


(what the mid-size corporations get a pass?)

Yes, to some extent.

It's not only "individual vs. government", it's "individual vs. massive concentrations of power". I don't disagree with a lot of what you're saying; I just can't believe that many people who call themselves "libertarian" are basically apologists for some of the biggest opponents of individual liberty that there are, namely corporations (which, in any case, are legal entities whose existence is made possible by government).

The evidence for this viewpoint is that more or less all people regularly behave in many ways that, while technically "freely chosen", are patently not in their own self-interest, and they receive massive encouragement to behave in these ways (e.g. advertising). It turns out that individuals, however important their rights and freedoms are, are enormously influenced by their environments. If some individuals notice that everyone's environment is being fucked with by predatory entities (that probably do not have rights and freedoms in the same sense an individual does, the libertarian must concede, because they exist at the whim of government; LLCs do not in fact have natural rights, while individuals arguably do), the decent thing for them to do is to point it out. Should they point it out via the legal system? I'm not sure; I'm pretty uncomfortable with that, too. But I'm very sure that the idea that what is profitable for certain mindless entities predicated on a legal fiction, and what is in the actual, considered interest of a typical reasonable person in a clear-thinking moment, are not axiomatically equivalent.

In particular, it's clear that a person "choosing" to consume a liter of soda in one sitting is very likely not operating as the sort of rational agent upon which the "but this fucks with my personal freedom" argument is often predicated. Personal freedom isn't really about the sanctity of our arbitrary hedonistic whims, and being an advocate of personal liberty should be different from doggedly asserting one's right to act like one is three.
posted by kengraham at 1:57 PM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I know another person whose insurance company is making her take "fat classes" or pay a higher premium because her BMI calculation says she's obese. Her actual doctor says she is in perfect health.

Case in point. This insurance company is behaving like a parasite on the "good order". A society predicated on rational self-interest, human freedom, and minimal government would not include this insurance company. Indeed, if a corporation behaved that way in such a society, individuals would locate the executives and take advantage of the limitations of the government to facilitate making an exception to the anti-violence norms with impunity. The morality of this would be questionable, but from the point of view of the self-organized "good order", the mob's crucifixion of the predatory insurance executives would be unimpeachable.
posted by kengraham at 2:07 PM on June 1, 2012


There's numerous arguments to the contrary.

Yes, there are. If want me to acknowledge that such arguments are made then consider it done. If you want to convince me of them then you'll need to do better than cite wikipedia and John Stossel, a man who wants to be Geraldo Rivera and fails.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:39 PM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Look! Libertarians are saying libertarian things! On libertarian websites! What more proof do you need!!

And there's a paragraph of a wikipedia article on emergent markets that plainly states that regulation is as emergent as the market itself.
posted by Trochanter at 4:36 PM on June 1, 2012


kengraham,

I'm not a champion of corporations, I agree with many of the criticisms leveled at them. But your argument seems to be directed towards freeing individuals from being targets of persuasion, which is a rather lofty goal.

Personal freedom isn't really about the sanctity of our arbitrary hedonistic whims, and being an advocate of personal liberty should be different from doggedly asserting one's right to act like one is three.

I agree that personal freedom shouldn't be automatically equated to complete self-indulgence, but I also don't see how you can respect individual liberty without also allowing hedonists and idiots free rein. That's part of the deal.

-----

If you want to convince me of them then you'll need to do better than cite wikipedia and John Stossel, a man who wants to be Geraldo Rivera and fails.

It hadn't occurred to me that you saw yourself as too sophisticated a reader for these sources. You did, after all, write "Human order among humans only happens when humans make that order, either by custom or by law or by force, or all three, usually, equitably or inequitably." as though it was some sort of demonstration that there are no instances of emergent order in the last 10,000 years of human history.

OK.

If I find a source that explains emergence in human society in yet simpler terms, which is also free of the taint of Wikipedia and John Stossel, I'll pass it along.
posted by BigSky at 7:13 PM on June 1, 2012


but I also don't see how you can respect individual liberty without also allowing hedonists and idiots free rein

You help people choose intelligently which of their motivations to follow, and you yourself remain open to such help. A functioning society of free people can't have too many hedonists or idiots, so it's probably in everyone's interest to be prosocial in this way. I'm totally in favour of a limited-government situation, but that entails some type of self-organized idiocy-control. It's not like it's without historical precedent, either; a lot of the content of any given culture seems to consist of little memes that transmit advice on not being an idiot and not causing social collapse.

Persuasion is certainly a positive force when the persuader is at most sort of tangentially interested in the persuasion. If the persuader is trying to get the persuadee to act in the persuader's interest (e.g. advertising), then it's very suspect. Done on a large scale, it makes the world qualitatively shittier, less interesting, and less amenable to the exercise of personal freedom.

The solution is likely not to regulate it; it is for freedom-loving folk to try to subvert it, or at least point out, loudly and frequently, for example: Soda. Dudes and ladies: why are you paying to consume that shit? Is that really part of your mental model of your motivations/goals/desires? Or is some sort of low-level addiction, or habit, or ingrained notion of "normal" at fault, and is it worth addressing?
posted by kengraham at 7:48 PM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Driving cars is far more dangerous than drinking soda, but we don't limit how much time people drive their cars because that would be ridiculous.

I have bad news for you, involving halfway decent urban planning and how we don't have any.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:14 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Driving cars is far more dangerous than drinking soda, but we don't limit how much time people drive their cars because that would be ridiculous.

But we do regulate:

* who can and can't drive
* how fast you can specifically drive on every single street
* where you can drive
* where you can park
* how much noise you can make with the car
* that everyone in the car must wear a seatbelt
* that the driver cannot be intoxicated or impaired
* that the car meets stringent pollution controls
* that all of the car's necessary features are functioning properly

etc. etc. etc. Limits on soda container size aren't much different than speed limits.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:18 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Don't you see a distinction between prohibitions against things that hurt society overall, and prohibitions against things that only hurt the perpetrator?

No man is an island.

How about wearing a helmet or using seatbelts?

The point is that things like not wearing a helmet are mostly injurious to the individual, but also harm society. The question of whether a law is appropriate comes down to whether the benefit is greater than the burden. In the case of seatbelts and helmets, the burden of having to click in is very low, but the costs of people getting mangled and ending up in the emergency room and leaving their children orphaned is rather high.

In the soda case you have a cost associated with common obesity in the healthcare system and elsewhere, and a burden in not being able to sell large cups of soda at certain places.

The burden in this case is very small.

Someone earlier basically said that this law was just like forcing people to wear monitoring bracelets or something. Of course this is wrong because the burden on individuals of having to wear those things is much larger. It would really annoy everyone every day, unlike the soda thing which most people would probably not even notice except for the news.
posted by Winnemac at 8:47 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Please reconsider your reasoning, lest I am obliged to apologize to some republicans.

Actually, it occurs to me now that you have with my reasoning earlier is that the question you asked "which of your bad habits would you support being outlawed?" isn't the same as the question you apparently expected to see answered. I could have answered "murder" if that was something I actually had a habit of doing.

I wouldn't really call myself a supporter of this proposal really though. I just think the terms for argument a badly drawn.
posted by Winnemac at 10:59 AM on June 6, 2012


How about wearing a helmet or using seatbelts?

Both are good practices that should not be enforced by law.
posted by Greg Nog at 3:01 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Both are good practices that should not be enforced by law.

Says the person who's never accidentally hit a motorcyclist.

But hell, I think cars and motorcycles should both be illegal. And guns!
posted by mrgrimm at 9:05 PM on June 6, 2012


California City May Tax Sugary Drinks Like Cigarettes   :)
posted by jeffburdges at 8:58 AM on June 8, 2012


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