Give Up the Big Gulp

biggulpI was disappointed to hear the NYC Board of Health voted to support Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to ban selling Big Gulps in NYC last September. And now that the law will go in effect in just a couple of weeks I’m still baffled. Why the need¬† to tell the public they can’t buy sodas larger than 16 ounces? (Note: you can still buy ridiculously large cups of beer.) Sure, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that drinking sugary drinks isn’t good for you, but neither is eating foods with too much salt. Should extra large fries be banned? And by the way, did you know that Mayor Bloomberg declared NYC Donut Day the day after announcing the Big Gulp ban?

Now that makes sense. Requiring calorie information on menus in NYC was certainly a reasonable decision to help people make informed choices regarding food consumption, but banning foods or limiting the amount that can be purchased is extreme.

Even though I strongly oppose the Big Gulp ban, I’m encouraging you to give up the Big Gulps, and soda in general. I wonder if I made mistakes when you were growing up by allowing you to drink soda. Soda for special occasions, soda at meals, soda at the movies, soda at ball games, soda, soda, soda. But then I think maybe you didn’t think of soda as something special or to be desired because it was off limits. I don’t know the right answer.

I’m pleased that you figured out on your own that you wanted to limit the amount soda or sugary drinks you consume. Of course, these decisions were made for a variety of reasons, not necessarily based on any overwhelming concern for the impact soda has on your long term health. I’m not so pleased with my own decisions regarding the consumption of soda. I gave up soda while in college but that was short lived. I’ve done better in the past couple of years, but on many occasions I’ve consumed three, four, or more sodas while eating out.

I remember when Sonny’s giant sodas were a trademark item since no other restaurants served drinks that large. Now that size drink is pretty standard. That was also before the advent of free refills. Increasing the price of sodas at restaurants or eliminating free refills would be a good change, but those changes need to be made by restaurants, not the government.

So why the sudden change of heart about drinking soda? Well the evidence is clear that soda (and other sugary drinks) makes us fat and increases our chances to develop diabetes and heart disease.¬† I can’t count the number of stories I’ve read about people losing significant amounts of weight by eliminating soda from their diets. Recently I read that a study was conducted which added one sugary drink per day to the diets of children between age 5 and 11. After one year, these children weighed an average of two pounds more than the control group. That’s pretty significant.

I hope you’ll join me in trying to kick the habit. It won’t be easy for me. It may not be easy for you, but it’s certainly worth the effort. You might lose a few pounds and you’ll decrease your risk of becoming a diabetic so give up the Big Gulp.

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By the way, the one exception I plan to make to this policy is when I go to NYC. I plan to take my own Big Gulp cup, fill it with soda, and walk around the city just waiting to get locked up for daring to drink soda! You know that old saying, “Soda doesn’t kill people, people who drink too much soda kill themselves (or risk their health).” Maybe that’s not exactly how that saying goes, but I think you get the point.