In response to a nicely written article by my good friend David Mendosa, Big Gulps are Out, Starch Is In, I should like to respectfully offer my opinion regarding the banning of Big Gulps and other trends toward junk food laws.
David makes what I believe are some valid points, but there are also some areas of contention that do not coordinate with my personal views. I would like to share some of those views at this time.
David does not agree with the recent ban on over-sized sodas in certain areas of the country and is hardly alone in this position. He writes that his primary concern is that such a ban could be a slippery slope that leads to greater government intervention in the personal lives of citizens of the United States. I agree that the slope toward change can be slippery indeed, but I am also aware that such slopes are not insurmountable. A slippery journey certainly requires a measure of caution and integrity, but the action does not necessarily need to be eliminated because of the risk. Change often involves risk. Because a government is imperfect does not mean it is illegitimate, and for each of those who would diminish the merit of government there is one who will oppose him.
David also notes that telling a free people what to do does not bode well in our nation and cites Prohibition as a failed example of trying to dictate to the American public. While I concur that Prohibition was a miserable failure, I do not think the current ban on over-sized drinks is comparable. The current ban is not an attempt at full elimination of a product as was Prohibition. Soft drinks will still be available, and any person may drink as much of them as he or she wishes although they may have to make more than one purchase to do so.
I also agree with David when he states that curbing a particular volume of a soft drink will not solve the obesity epidemic, but I do not believe that to be the point of the ban. All resolution begins with a first action, and the simple action of making it a bit more difficult to continue a bad habit is legitimate.
David concludes his article by referencing an excellent quote about the dangers of complacency. The quote is about the silence of the many when the socialists, the trade unionists, and the Jews were abducted prior to and during the second World War. In the end, there was no one left to speak against the atrocities. The difference here is that nothing is being taken away. Again, any person who wishes to indulge or even overindulge is welcome to do that. They just cannot do it by means of a single purchase.
I also agree with David that there is an obesity problem in the United States. Yes, two-third of Americans are overweight and one-third are obese. Yes, 8.3 percent of Americans have diabetes. And yes, the problem extends well beyond the consumption of sugary drinks.
I believe no matter what approach is employed to address the health issues of obesity in our country, there will be those who protest and those who are suspicious. I also believe that in some instances those concerns will be legitimate. That thing that I believe most in though is effort. No slippery slope was ever climbed without an effort and no effort to climb that slope will be easy. There will be protests and there will be suspicion, but we must engage despite the presence of both.
What do you feel we need do in order to successfully proceed? All thoughts are welcome and appreciated.
Living life well-fed,