Still Swallowing: Big Gulps Banned In NYC

Image via The Atlantic Wire
                                        Image via The Atlantic Wire


Not that I planned on ordering a Big Gulp any time soon, but as of yesterday they are officially outlawed in New York City. All sugary, non-diet and calorie-laden beverages over 16 oz have been banned from NYC restaurants, delis and theaters. While I can’t remember the last time I even considered buying a Big Gulp, and do consider it a poor investment (while I sit here drinking my $3 Americano - a rather wise investment, I would say) who am I to make that decision for anyone? What is being regulated in hopes that we become a more thriving and healthy nation, seems contrary to the dietary havoc that is still allowed. Besides the health effects of this new law (and that if it wouldn’ve taken off years back we would’ve have missed such gleeful moments) it seems a elementary policy to place on us as Americans adults. Am I still attending private elementary school? I’m confused. So let me get this straight: I can abort my own baby, but I can’t buy a Big Gulp?

NBC news reported that this ban passed with 8 members on board and only one opposing. Immediately after the vote Health Commissioner, Thomas Farley, said “This is a historic step to address a major health problem of our time…” But what exactly is it “historic” for? Being a tab absurd? “…shrinking only one sugary drink per person every two weeks from 20 ounces to 16 ounces, New Yorkers could collectively prevent 2.3 million pounds gained per year. This would slow the obesity epidemic and prevent much needless illness.” That is of course, if people don’t decide to go back for refills after their lunch of Big Mac and fries. In order to prevent further weight gain and lower our Nation’s rate of obesity, we’re going to need to cut out a lot more than just Big Gulps. For all the varieties of sugary, fried and enriched substances that majority of America’s consume, how is regulating the portion size of my drink significantly going to change my current state of health?

Being the health advocate that I am, who doesn’t ever touch soda or much less care to, I see this decision as being made with the right motives, but arriving at an ineffective motion that may have more of a “historic impact” on our choice than our health. Our current state of health is no doubt a crisis. With one third of Americans obese, and that rate rising, we are certainly in need of some major changes in our diets to turn this deathly epidemic around. Banning Big Gulps may not be the best choice, by assuming it to encourage healthier lifestyles. Why not start at our inhumane chicken and meat farm corporation and ban the hormones injected in chickens and living conditions of these animals, that are the food supply for all the major franchises that feed many of us daily? Why not enforce more healthy options, making organic and whole foods more affordable?

I wonder if one day our kids will reminisce of this “historic step”, the way we do to of the Prohibition-Era: “Yeah, back in the day, my folks said big gulps were outlawed in NYC ….” Crazy, no? If we are trusted to be responsible to regulate our alcohol intake, can’t we handle our size of Dr. Pepper? My guess is, banning Big Gulps will likely just make soda sweeter to the US palette.