I have a couple of very vivid memories from my childhood, growing up smack-dab in the middle of middle class in Sacramento, California. I remember playing on metal slides in the hot summer sun, the dress-up clothes my mom always found at garage sales for my sister and me, and my father and his insulin shots.
My father was a wonderful man who took great care of his family but terrible care of himself. He suffered from a lot of the ailments common to African American men; high blood pressure, heart disease and yes, diabetes. He was sedentary and overweight, carrying most of that in his mid-section, a clear indication of what doctors now call Metabolic Syndrome. The breast cancer diagnosis that came near the end of his 59 years on this earth was just one more in a long list of health problems he had to deal with.
But, oh I do remember that big belly. Every day he would come home from work, lift up his flimsy, well-worn, white V-neck and poke himself in the stomach, delivering the life-saving insulin his body no longer could. Yet, even with those memories and the knowledge of my own genetic hand, I find myself dead set against the plan proposed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to ban the sale of jumbo sodas in the city. I just don’t think it will work.
Ever been on a diet before? What happens when someone tells you, “You can’t have that?” You want it more. You think about it, dream about it, drool over it while dreaming about it. And, though you know it won’t help get you closer to your goal, you desire it and won’t stop until you get it. In this case, you might not be able to buy a 16-ounce jumbo soda but, unless you were passing notes in second grade math, you’ll be able to figure your way around this one.
Folks in this country are a pretty independent lot who don’t take kindly to being told what to do even when we know what we’re doing is not good for us (Prohibition anyone?). And as a mother, I really don’t dig people telling me what I can and can’t, should and shouldn’t feed my kids; that’s my job.
Another problem with this Big Brother-esque ban? It’s an over-simplification of a complex issue. Yeah, copious amounts of sugary soda are bad. So is the extra large value meal and cutting physical education from school curriculum but when last I checked, you can still buy enough fries to feed the leftovers to pigeons in Central Park and I don’t see anyone snatching red pens out of legislators hands when money’s tight.
And am I the only one who feels like this could be the beginning of a slippery, sugar-coated slope? What’s next? A ban on burgers that aren’t
made of lean round beef? Pasta that’s not whole wheat? Could be, I suppose.
Look, I know the place from which this comes; obesity in this country is no joke and the rates of childhood obesity are more troubling still. But maybe just a surcharge on large beverages would be a better idea. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying do nothing; it’s just that this thing is tough to swallow.
What do you guys think? Is the ban on sugary soda a good idea? Bad idea? Do you let your kids drink soda and if so, how much?
Yo! Nice to meet you! You can find out more about me on my blog, Good Enough Mother.