Sugar addicts and libertarians rejoice! A judge put the kibosh on New York City’s ban of super-sized sugary drinks sold in restaurants, which was to go into effect Tuesday.
But don’t go too wild on the 16-ounce sodas. Most sugary drinks contain absolutely no nutritional value. Worse, drinking these sugar bombs can go a long way toward destroying your health.
Writing about the backlash against the pending ban last year, the New York Times’ Mark Bittman reminded opponents that “sugar-sweetened beverages are nothing more than sugar delivery systems, and sugar is probably the most dangerous part of our current diet. People will argue forever about whether sugar-sweetened beverages lead directly to obesity, but [Mayor] Bloomberg’s ban should be framed first and foremost as an effort to reduce sugar consumption.”
Bittman also pointed out the obvious, although sadly not so obvious to everyone: Soda isn’t food.
After laying out the definitions of “nutritious” and “food,” he wrote:
“Sugar-sweetened beverages don’t meet this description any more than do beer and tobacco and, for that matter, heroin, and they have more in common with these things than they do with carrots.”
Of course, people will push back and argue that it’s their right to destroy their bodies and risk their lives in whatever way they choose. Some people go to tanning salons, others ride bikes without helmets. When it comes to hazards to our health and safety, what makes soda any worse?
Well, according to psychologist and human behavior expert Wendy Walsh, most people are powerless against sugar. “We have an unfettered desire and craving for [sugar, salt and fat] that many of us actually can't control,” she said on CNN during a weekend debate over the soda ban, arguing rather convincingly that big corporations are playing into human biology to exploit consumers.
“Modern capitalist America has capitalized on that and made sure that they put large doses of that in everything they give us. So, how can we be making free choice when we're addicted?” Walsh argued.
It’s hard to argue with that. You’d think those who’re especially dedicated to the cause of personal freedom would agree with Walsh that we don’t want big corporations controlling us in any way, much less profiting while consumers deteriorate.
Then again, Walsh’s opponent on the CNN segment said a good Saturday night would include steak, cigarettes and gambling. So maybe Mr. Personal Freedom wants to be controlled?
I’m siding with Walsh. And with Bittman. We need to make it harder for people to get hooked on substances that will render them powerless -- and might kill them too.
Follow Alexandra Le Tellier on Twitter @alexletellier