Proposed soft drink ban the right step

June 14, 2012 Editorials Print Print

Once again, we turn our attention to a question of public health: should sugary soft drinks be regulated or banned in the campaign against diabetes?

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg thinks so.

Jeremy Cloud

Last month, he proposed legislation that would ban the sale of 16-ounce soft drinks in every business that wasn’t a grocery store. And I partially agree with him.

Now some observant readers may scream, “Ha! He was totally on the other side when it was his smoking habit under fire!”

Not true. As a citizen, and a journalist, I object to the needless use of government power to make decisions unilaterally for private individuals. When the subject of smoking came up, my point was that regulation was a better route than outright ban. I have no objection to being asked to go to a designated area to protect the health of others.

But, as some may say, soft drinks don’t have second-hand effects like cigarettes.

Yes … and also, no. Soft drinks sweetened with corn syrup — as nearly all soft drinks are — can factor into diabetes. The body doesn’t process corn syrup the same way it does say, cane sugar, according to “Science of Nutrition,” written by Janice Thompson, Melinda Manore, and Linda Vaughan.

Sound familiar? That’s because it’s OCCC’s nutrition textbook. Yeah. This is a well-known chemical difference so elementary, it’s in college textbooks.

The difference is that cane sugar, fruit sugars, and vegetable sugars are complex. The body takes time to break them down.

Corn syrup comes ready to use, no work required, and hits the body like a brick. It’s the difference between lending a neighbor a cup of sugar once a day, and throwing a 10-pound bag at him every half hour.

The point? When a body gets hit with so much sugar that it can’t use so often, it can lose the ability to process sugar correctly — which is the very simple definition of diabetes.

Diabetes costs this country an estimated $218 billion yearly according to where there is a huge breakdown of effects and costs.

That’s labor lost, health affected, treatment, diagnosis and preventative treatments. That’s a huge chunk of money. In comparison, the entire tobacco industry costs the country $193 billion.

And that’s just diabetes. That’s not factoring in obesity and the myriad of related health costs. That’s not taking into account the rising concern that soft drinks could also cause bone health issues.

Why all this hullabaloo to protect an industry that dispenses health risks by the 44 oz. foam cup with little oversight and no regulation?

So, the next time any reader is tempted to complain that smokers infringe on their right to breath, please remember that your daily Big Gulp infringes on my right to reasonably priced healthcare.

—Jeremy Cloud


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