Monday, June 04, 2012

A spoonful of sugar

It seems a large contingent of the populace has a thing or two to say about NYC's Mayor and his proposed large soft drink ban. While I have to agree that Bloomberg's proposal is a bit harsh, here are a few suggestions from your humble hostess on regulating this completely legal substance:

--Include a mandatory warning label on all sugary sodas that meticulously describes the dangers associated with obesity.

--Include a mandatory graphic label on all sugary sodas that shows the equivalent number of sugar cubes included in the associated container.

--Require persons seeking to purchase a sugary drink to take a blood sugar test and to be weighed--not in order to deny them access to this legal substance, mind you, but just so they are made aware and can be better informed about whether or not to consume this product.

--Institute a mandatory 24-hour waiting period before actually giving a sugary soda to someone who has requested one so the consumer may thoroughly consider his choice.

--Ban all federal funding from any organization that serves high-sugar content drinks.

--Pass legislation that disallows the firing of any employee who chooses to deny serving or selling sugary sodas to someone they think is obese or at risk of becoming obese. After all, obesity kills; and no one should be forced to facilitate it.

Gee. Sound familiar?

Now then, here is the smartest thing I've read regarding Bloomberg's proposed ban (via Politico):

What if his main goal, from the very start, was to help consumers forge a strong connection between sugary drinks and obesity, using the media to help carry his message? What if he wanted millions of people – in New York City and around the country – to become more aware of the connection between Coca Cola and fat? What if he wanted news organizations to report that a 16 ounce soda has the equivalent of a jaw-dropping 20 sugar cubes?

*  *  *


John Venlet said...

Phillips' what ifs, in regards Bloomberg, posit that the general public are a bunch of morons with no clue regarding the connection between downing large sugary drinks, or jumbo cupcakes for that matter, and getting fat (possibly accurate).

Bloomberg is no PR genius, but simply a power seeker who regularly hawks one nannying measure or another with the state to be the enforcer, and Phillips is just another statist shill
attempting to burnish Bloomberg's foolishness into a shiny bauble of wisdom.

Erin O'Brien said...

It seems I've stumbled upon an issue about which the esteemed blogger from Michigan has strong opinions.

No one can deny that everyone's talking about this, John--including you and me.

Bill said...

Everyone knows a fat person. Do them a favor and tell them they're fat and not to eat and drink so much crap and to mover around a little. Do we really need a mayor to help with this?

wallycrawler said...

I never drink pop (OK rarely) that night I drank two cokes, 16 oz'rs, just because I can! What's next? Only 8 wings per sit'n? F' that, I'm in for all you can eat Hooters on Monday!... & I'm gonna drink soda watch me.

Craig Hughes said...

That is EXACTLY what we need, the government stipulating portions, assuming to understand each individuals health requirements. Yes, I need my government to protect me from myself because I am an idiot. Oops, hey I do the difference between fructose and refined sugar. Do I get a ID card that lets me supersize it?

Mike Lawless said...

Treat these drinks like they treat them and build new stadiums so soccer moms can bitch like smokers do. The same increased health costs result.

Anonymous said...

Taste buds are a gift from God. Restricting their use is heresy. The next thing you know someone will be proposing they open a cooking school in Vermont.


Big Mark 243 said...

I agree with you and John (the esteemed blogger from Michigan). I think that the erosion of personal freedoms which began in earnest with the patriot act, is going to be continued with the State choosing what is "good for us" and forcing us to accept freedom with fewer options, and/or regulating our choices according to an arbitrary chart of what is "good" for us.

Talking about it is a trick to get us to be willing to accept the state doing what is best for us. Sometimes, the state doesn't want what is best for us. It just wants.

Erin O'Brien said...

Everybody's wrong.

We will be forced into thinness, but not by the GOV. 'Twill be mandated by the private sector.

More and more companies are refusing to hire anyone who tests positive for tobacco in order to keep their insurance premiums down.

The next step will be hiring only people who are at a healthy weight.

Craig Hughes said...

Ya know something EOB, if I owned a private business and had to deal with the high costs of healthcare for employees, productivity issues, sick time, etc., I would take all that into consideration.

Erin O'Brien said...

"Wellness programs" are popping up EVERYWHERE.

As for smoking: "More job-seekers are facing an added requirement: no smoking — at work or anytime."

John Venlet said...

Hey, Erin. I won't and can't deny that everybody is talking about this, but in large part its been on the public radar for quite some time; the words obesity epidemic have oft been in the "headline" news feeds, and Bloomberg's pontications, because he is the mayor of New York, will always get wide ranging mainstream media press.

I'm all for the private sector discriminatingly choosing who to hire, that's how it should be. If private employers do not want to hire fat people, smokers, or what have you, that should be their choice.

Erin O'Brien said...

Here in Ohio, the "tobacco-free staffing" push is largely within the medical industry.

Hence, when I go to an ER, I am not ensured care from the best possible staff. I'm only ensured care from the best possible nonsmoking staff.

It is a tragedy to see highly experienced and competent medical professionals turned away from jobs because they use a legal substance in their own home.

Job applicants who fail test tobacco positive are given 90 days to re-apply for a position. If they can't quit the sticks, they're pretty much out of luck as this is the industry MO here--particularly in NE Ohio.

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

I'll sum up my take on Bloomberg's idea simply - *uck you, Mr. Mayor.

Sugary drinks aren't the only cause of obesity in this country. Some folks have a genetic disposition towards obesity. Others make food choices based on any number of factors, to include religious/cultural ones. To simply single out sugary drinks as the seemingly sole cause of obesity ignores the other parts of the problem. It also doesn't put forth a comprehensive proposal to deal with the issue, in effect curing the symptom but not the overall cause(s). But it sure does make for a good sound bite.

Besides, what's next? A card authorizing you so many cheeseburgers a year? Some government official standing behind you in line at your favorite fast food joint monitoring what you order? This is, quite simply, insane.

As for businesses discriminating, they've always done it, whether we like it or not, or they admitted it or not, for any number of reasons. Remember the dude a few years ago who wanted a job as a "Hooter's girl?" He didn't, obviously, get the job (C'mon, dude. A Hooter's Guy? Really? Open your own place, put on a Speedo, and call it Buns a Poppin' or something.)

I think Erin's assertion that the private sector has more to do with "mandating" thinness is correct. As she noted, more and more companies are instituting "wellness programs," installing gyms in their buildings, giving incentives for weight loss and other wellness activities. This being the case, I think Bloomberg and others like him just need to shut the *uck up, and stay in their lane. I don't need them to tell me what it is I should or shouldn't eat. I can make that decision on my own. And besides, the homemade bacon I make tastes just fine.

BTW, I don't drink a lot of sugary drinks. I drink mostly water throughout the day.

@ RJ: Too late. It's already there in Vermont You Know How I feel. Loved the school - the place, not so much.


John Venlet said...

Hence, when I go to an ER, I am not ensured care from the best possible staff. I'm only ensured care from the best possible nonsmoking staff.

It is a tragedy to see highly experienced and competent medical professionals turned away from jobs because they use a legal substance in their own home.

Erin, the drawbacks you note are legitimate indeed. I think in large part, though, the results you decry are driven by the demonization of tobacco use instituted by legislation, rather than the private market. Granted, now the private market is making attempts to handle the ball, rather than having to respond to legislation.

Erin O'Brien said...

John, the "results I decry" don't have a damn thing to do with the "demonization of tobacco" and have everything to do with limiting staff members that play better on the actuary tables. It's about money and nothing more.

John Venlet said...

No doubt, business risks are money driven, with or without consulting actuary tables, Erin.

Erin O'Brien said...

"Wellness Program" questionnaires don't just ask about tobacco use and weight, they ask employees if they tan, ski, fasten their safety belt, consume cured meats, consume eggs, exercise, and on and on and on.

They ask how often you snack, if you've ever been depressed, blah blah blah.

The only thing employers are acting on now is the low hanging fruit: smoking. To find out why, you don't need to look at the actuary tables, John. Just go get a quote for life insurance. Then do it again, but change the "smoking" status and look at the price difference.

John Venlet said...

Oh, I know about that Erin, being a smoker and all, and I pay for making my choice to smoke, but I don't consider having to pay for making my choice as wrong.

jo. said...

"Dear Abby" recently advocated implanting people with GPS devices. Maybe they could do double duty as blood sugar monitors and make you puke if you smoke a cigarette.

DogsDontPurr said...

I had heard recently that some hospitals are considering hiring only people who were in a healthy weight range. That sort of makes sense to me. I think my healthcare provider should be a healthy example. Especially since they chose *health* care as a career path.

There is a doctor I go to who has a nurse/assistant that weighs about 400 pounds. Every time I go in, she grills me about how much I exercise and chides me for not exercising enough. Ha! And I am in a reasonable weight range (140 lbs). I always feel like asking her: "So how much do YOU exercise?!!"

But none the less, I really don't think these things should be mandated by the government at all. It can only be the beginning of a very slippery slope.

Kirk said...

Good bit of satire, Erin, though you should have left out the "sound familiar" part and seen if anyone got it.

Kirk said...

Now that I think about it, maybe they didn't, even with the "sound familiar" part left in.

sarahm59 said...

Yes Kirk. I wonder how many of the commentators decrying the outlawing of sugary drinks would mind if a doctor refuses the morning after pill to a rape victim.

Erin O'Brien said...

Sarah and Kirk and DDP,

I thought the satire of this was obvious as hell. The whole point of the post was to showcase how far down DDP's "slippery slope" we've already gone with women's reproductive rights.

Health care professionals in 8 states have the right to refuse dispensing emergency contraceptives.--source

Erin O'Brien said...

Just to be clear: This post was poking fun at people who are up in arms over being told, no big soda for you! but could not care less when the gov inhibits access to emergency contraception, abortion, etc.

Bill said...

So far, no one has been denied access to a big gulp. Do you know a woman who can't get contraception?

Erin O'Brien said...

Bill: yes.

The young woman asked the doctor whether or not emergency contraceptives were available and whether the doctor was simply refusing to provide them. The nurse told her “I will not give you emergency contraceptives because it goes against my belief.” The doctor refused to help her, even though she had just been raped, and refused to find another doctor to help her.


Anonymous said...

That photograph still makes me cringe. I never felt empathetic towards an inanimate object, ie, a shock absorber, before or since...

I am extraordinarily amused to see Mr Bloomberg's proposal described as liberal nanny-state meddling. If Michael Bloomberg is a liberal then moth balls are breath mints...

@John@ 2:34/6/4: If tobacco use has been "demonized", it's been demonized by medical research and science, not legislation.

Legislation has, on the other hand, has made tobacco an essential part of governmental revenue streams. The fact that legislation is also on the books to deliver a figurative kick in the balls to the taxed, such as forbidding me from lighting up over an also-heavily-taxed beverage in a neighborhood gin mill or in my private office at work is just a little schadenfreude for the legislators.


Bill said...

Thanks Erin but check out the video link mentioned in the source for the complete story and for some perspective.

Erin O'Brien said...

I did, Bill, and became even more enraged.

They shamed her, further empowering the rapist. What might have happened if she didn't have access to another facility?

This is what war on women looks like.

Mike Lawless said...

The War on Women: Paycheck Fairness...they vote today and all the Republican women politicians Willard promotes voted against the bill. It's like he thinks as long as they have a vagina, other women will follow. Willard would not commit to the bill and only said "he supports pay equity." Right.

Dudesworthy said...

The initial post reminds me of this strip from XKCD:

(One can of soda = 2 Cadbury Eggs worth of sugar)

I don't think Bloomberg is right, but I do think that the general public is uninformed about how unhealthy these drinks are (that being said, I'm just as guilty of soda guzzling as anyone else...)