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The Big Sugar Wars, Pt 1

by Mark Riley posted Mar 13 2013 6:05PM


What a week it's been for big sugary drinks in New York City! A rather vague and confusing ban on same was scheduled to go into effect on Tuesday. On Monday, however, a State Supreme Court Justice struck it down. "Arbitrary and capricious", Justice Milton Tingling ruled, an unusually harsh rebuke to Mayor Michael Bloomberg. In case you missed it, Bloomberg is unused to having his way impeded, especially during this, his legacy building victory lap. 

Funny thing is, they're both right in their own way. Justice Tingling said, rightly, that the ban is not even close to being uniform. After all, a corner deli would be limited to a 16 oz. soda, while a 7-11 down the block could keep selling monster size drinks loaded with sugar to their heart's content.

On the other hand, the people who say its a matter of choice and that Bloomberg is acting like a nanny again completely miss the point. Soda serving sizes have increased geometrically over the years. When McDonald's first opened its doors, the only serving size for a soda was 7 oz. Try buying one that size today. The increase in soda size wasn't a result of petitions from consumers demanding the right to drink a Big Gulp. It was a function of the beverage industry trying to make more money.

And now, the big sugary drink makers have something else to contend with. Americans drank more water than soda last year, by a margin of 55 gallons to 48. The beverage folks can only react two ways to this news, which should warm the heart of every health professional in America. They can buy up water companies (which they've done, many of them), while at the same time fighting a pitched battle against any sensible regulation on soda size.

They also have unlikely allies in the fight for big sugary drinks. Some of the nation's foremost civil rights and minority advocacy organizations are weighing in on the side of big soda. It's no wonder. The beverage industry kicks in millions of dollars to help keep those organizations running.

It's like the opening scene in the first "Godfather" movie. The undertaker, Bonasera, asks Vito Corleone to avenge the sexual assault of his daughter. After making him grovel a bit, the Godfather agrees. Later in the film, after his oldest son was killed, Vito Corleone visits the undertaker to collect on the favor. 

"Well, my friend, are you ready to do me this service?"

They are.

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Location : New York City
03/13/2013 6:05PM
The Big Sugar Wars, Pt 1
Please Enter Your Comments Below
03/14/2013 3:13PM
A Free Country
I respectfully disagree with all "nanny-state" legislation. Yes, certainly have an education campaign. Yes, show people just how harmful certain things might be, but DON'T BAN IT. This is supposed to be a free country. We don't want dieticians and nutritionists ruling over us. Give us the information, and let us use it as we will. My grandson is 5 foot three and weighs 90 pounds. So, he can, pretty much, have all the soda he wants. Besides, for a politician who effectively banned smoking in most places, what did he expect? Of course there is an increase in obesity. The fastest way to gain a lot of weight, is to quit smoking.
03/15/2013 8:37AM
Dirty Streets
A woman phoned in the earlier part of the 3rd hour of the show today, 3/15, citing dirty streets in "black" neighborhoods vs. "white" neighborhoods. Don't know what or where she's talking about!! I think it's dirty everywhere, and here's my observation: These days, people who rent their apartments from a landlord aren't compelled to clean up/maintain the premises. I don't know when this trend started. I always figured that, it's where you live whether you own or rent. You've got to walk by it, coming and going. If I might use an analogy of my departed father who had the wisdom of the ages: "It's like crapping in bed and pushing it down the end with your feet."
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