Friday, June 1, 2012

There are Those Still in Need of a Sippy Cup

Last night, while watching my favorite late night comedian, a headline on the Daily Show caught my eye: Mayor Bloomberg Limits Soft Drinks to just 16 ounces. The routine around this headline was amusing and made me chuckle at the idiocracy of needing/wanting to drink more than 16 ounces of anything other than water. Then again on the Today Show, Michael Bloomberg joined Matt Lauer for a conversation on the subject and it made me ponder the issue even more.

When we reach the age of 18, we are considered an adult. We can vote. We have our freedom from our parents. We can make choices for ourselves. We can go and do as we please. But do we know how to do that? Can we make the best choices for ourselves?

As I have shared my support for the Mayor's debate with others, I have heard the same argument over and over: The government is trying to limit our freedom! They are taking away our choices! They are telling us what we can and can't do!

Yet, as a follow up to each of their arguments, they never fail to add: But I don't drink soft drinks, except diet soda. Or I only buy 12 ounce bottles.

Translation: The mayor's bill doesn't effect you! You are an adult who can make adult choices for yourself. Good for you.

Shortly after the most verbose debate of the morning began, my nephew wandered in my office and went straight to his toy shelf. (Its his obligatory task to move the giant fire truck to the floor and then find something else to occupy his time). He then pulled up a chair and began drawing on the white board, with his mom telling him he had 10 minutes and then they had to go. As his time ran out, he pushed for more, only to be told he had other places to be. He had to have an adult assist him in his choices, because left up to him he would have spent the afternoon drawing in my office, and maybe finally played with the firetruck. He is only four. He needs guidance.

Yet, how many times in our daily interactions with society do we witness those with no will power or limits and they need guidance in their choices as well? They may order a supersized soda (32 ounces, 400 calories) with the thought they will only consume half. But more often than not, they drink it all and go back for refills all because they can, and they are usually free. Do this a few times a week, and at the end of the month you have added enough calories to pack on a few pounds. Added pounds and too much sugar is what the Mayor is trying to limit, not choices or options.

If we are not wise enough to choose wisely on a day-to-day basis for ourselves as adults, then why shouldn't the goverment step in as an advisory committee to help us make wiser choices? In New York City, it is law that all restaurants with more than 83 locations (which usually means fast food, and chain restaurants that make their money from serving poor quality food choices at lower prices) MUST show the calorie count on all their menus. Its a choice if you still order it, but the city wants you to know how many calories you are ingesting if you do.

Under Bloomberg's legislation, if you really want 32 ounces of soda, you can still have it. The only difference is having to deal with the cumbersome load of carrying around two 16 ounce cups.

Bloomberg's goal: awareness. Not limits.

While we may be adults, and not want someone telling us what to do like when we were 4 years old, there are those that still need some guidance. If helpful guidance allows you to live better and feel better comes from the government is that such a terrible thing? While we are no longer toddlers and in need of hand holding in many ways, there are those members of our society that could still use a sippy cup when it comes to portion control. All Bloomberg is saying is if you want more, you can lug around two sippy cups; he doesn't want it to be easy to consume more than our adult bodies really need.

So, is it goverment trying to limit us as a society? Or is it just those that are limited in their thinking that think that is the case?

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