NYC Soda Sizing Sizzles

Size matters.

Yup, in most things, though not the one that saying usually refers to.

It matters if you’re too short for the rides at Six Flags, or too tall to play in IKEA’s ball pit.   Or if you used to wear a 10 and are now a 16.

And it matters if you’re too small to see over the steering wheel or too large to fit in an airplane seat.

But if you’re big and powerful, like Coca-Cola, you can convince people that size is irrelevant. Sugar-loaded gigantic sodas don’t affect your health, the company maintains. Based on their research, a calorie is a calorie, whether you get it from a cupcake, a cola, or a carrot.  And they’re pouring millions of dollars into proving their point.

Like lobbying to defeat New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s initiative to reduce the sizes of soft drinks sold in restaurants.  The decision, handed down yesterday, will most likely be appealed.

The amount of money spent on lawyers and lawsuits is staggering. Imagine if even a fraction of it was allocated to medical research.

The wise people at Coca Cola even paid people to study housework.  Ladies, we’re fatter than our mothers and grandmothers because we don’t do as much vacuuming and dusting as they did.

Portion control, moderation, balanced meals. These are the words of dieting wisdom I grew up with. Often at restaurants I lament that I’d be happy if they’d reduce the portion size and cut the price to match.  Instead, I take home leftovers.

No one is stopping anyone from buying as many soft drinks as he/she desires. Soda drinking isn’t being banned.

Yet the impact of sugar on obesity and diabetes is well known.  No amount of floor mopping or loads of laundry will negate the calories and sugar consumed if these tasks are rewarded by drinking gallons of soda.

I remember Coke’s early ad campaigns. Slogans like  “It’s the real thing”; and how they hoped to “teach the world to sing.”  . Sweet, saccharine, and seemingly harmless.

Maybe Michael R. Bloomberg should borrow some of these phrases for his global health initiatives. After all, public health leads to perfect harmony; and that would be the real thing.

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About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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18 Responses to NYC Soda Sizing Sizzles

  1. Bravo!! This is an incredible post Lisa!! Like Carrie’s post about super sizing and the giant hamburger, it’s straight talk and right on! Bravo!

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    • Thanks, Dawn. It’s very sad the power that the industry has to prevent this measure from passing. I’m not a soda drinker, except for the occasional root beer float. People can buy as much as they want in a store. This seems personal against Bloomberg. He’s the only one taking on these important causes – from this to gun control. Even Michelle Obama doesn’t want to put her name on this– she’s all about getting us all to move and eat healthy; why not go for the jugular?

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      • Bloomberg is a surprising guy. He’s got real chutzpah!
        And you’re right, it’s too bad that Michelle can’t step up and do more. Politics: it’s all about what makes you popular, and rare to see a politician who TRULY stands up for what they know is right… because they believe in it!

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      • He has the luxury of not worrying about being re-elected and the money to support his ideas independently of politics. I don’t agree with everything he’s done (ie, like changing the rules so he could run for a 3rd term), but NYC has never looked better. Clean, safe. Lots of parks and facilities. I worry what it will become under any new administration.

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  2. Patti Winker says:

    “…public health leads to perfect harmony; and that would be the real thing.”

    I think you coined a phrase there! THAT is spot on.

    Such a thoughtful post, Lisa. I really enjoyed reading it, and pondering. So, the only reason we’re larger than our grandmothers and mothers is because we don’t spend enough time and/or energy on household chores? hmmm. It’s difficult to believe that anyone actually buys that. It’s like just about every aspect of life. When you’re looking for a ‘why?’ – follow the money.

    What’s wrong with a law that says NO… No you can’t sell a bucket of soda. No you can’t sell leaded gas. No you can’t dump sewage in the river. No you can’t market cigarettes and liquor to kids.

    We should be able to look back, see if something no longer makes sense, and change when we find out it doesn’t. It happens all the time. I think this is another law that will, in the end, be on the right side of history. Thanks for digging in and posting this great read.

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    • Thanks, Patti! It really irks me. Bloomberg is the only person brave enough to tackle these issues- and gun control– that most are afraid to touch. His legacy will be global– not only is NYC better than ever– his anti-smoking has already impacted the world. This hopefully won’t be far behind. Maybe when we tire of paying for health care.

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      • Patti Winker says:

        You’re welcome, Lisa. Yeah, what ever happened to true down-and-dirty politics? You know, the kind where politicians spoke up and fought for what they really believed in. I’m very tired of the politicians playing it safe (including our President and First Lady) when they’re afraid they would lose their footing with certain groups, most notably, the money. Hopefully, thanks to people like Bloomberg, future generations will walk into museums and see cigarettes and ‘Big Gulp’ cups in the ancient artifacts. And the people will laugh and say; “What could they have been thinking!?” 😀

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  3. So very true Lisa! Did you catch Sarah Palin’s remark/tweet, “Keep government out of our refrigerators.” I almost gagged. But then again, I was always a Pepsi girl 🙂 We had a vending machine in the indoor gym at my camp and after every big basketball game, we’d go for the tall, glass bottle of freezing cold Pepsi. Still, it was an occasional treat back then. Can’t remember when I bought soda last.

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    • Thanks. OMG. Sarah Palin. Talk about going back in time. Why not get rid of the FDA while she’s at it? I’m a root beer gal myself; my father would bring me a root beer float after mowing the lawn. Still love them- maybe once a summer. I never have soda on hand and forget to buy it for the rare guest who might want it.

      On Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 3:43 PM, cyclingrandma

      Like

  4. Judy says:

    Fabulous post Lisa! Thanks for bringing it up and opening a discussion. Go Bloomberg!

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  5. Great post. I do hope we can win this one. The amount of sugar consumed in one of those drinks is massive and so is the amount of litter. As a doctor, I know people need a push to do the right thing. I always ask my patients how much soda they drink. When you have them stop, they lose weight. Of course living in an area where people hardly exercised and thought sweet tea and soda was the only way to quench a thirst made me realize how bad this is. I see the biggest effects in college students from other countries who start to slurp down soda. They gain weight and get acne. I have them all stop soda.

    Bloomberg has put his money and reputation on the line for smoking, gun control and obesity. I have been taking an online free course about the global impact of tobacco through the Bloomberg School of Public Health. It is enlightening and very well done. The press coverage of this is also one-sided. I really do not want to hear another person say they have a right to drink what they want. That is not the point. Sorry for the rant.

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    • No need to apologize! Thanks for commenting. More physicians have to get behind this– to make up for the cowardly politicians. Thanks, Judy.

      On Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 6:51 PM, cyclingrandma

      Like

  6. karen r-w says:

    Great post! I think it’s great when the government tackles issues that have a negative effect on the entire population (obesity costs taxpayers tons of money). I disagree with some of the things that Bloomberg has tried to regulate though because I don’t think they are all for the public good, are actually are hurting citizens, and are based on his own personal hatred/ biases (for example, I think he has a hot place waiting for him after his ruling on bris milah). I would be supportive of him making stricter smoking laws though – in Atlanta you cant smoke within 20 feet of a store or something like that which means people are forced to smoke in the middle of the street if they really want a cigarette (“surprisingly” I lot of people stopped based on the inconvenience….) haha

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  7. Here here! I remember when a large soda at McDonalds is what they now call a small (or medium). I had to go to a McDonalds in Japan to see an actual small sized soda again. I’d much rather have smaller portions and lower prices at restaurants, as well. But, I don’t eat out much in any case.

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  8. Patti Winker says:

    I just went online to search for studies linking increase in soda sizes to increase in obesity. I could be here all day reading… The naysayers need to connect the dots, eh?

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    • Go figure. People know it’s bad for them; it’s about freedom == that’s what many are protesting– but I think we need a nudge and I just hate how the industry is defending itself- and has the big bucks to do so without shame.

      On Wed, Mar 13, 2013 at 1:48 PM, cyclingrandma

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