Cities across the country seem to be following NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's lead. Officials in LA and Cambridge proposed partial soda bans this week.
\n</div><div> New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/12/nyregion/persistent-obesity-fuels-soda-ban-by-bloomberg.html?pagewanted=all">ban the sale</a> of large sodas has stirred up a lot of <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/drinking-kool-aid-article-1.1088308">angry</a> <a href="http://gawker.com/5914630/quit-complaining-about-mayor-bloombergs-soda-ban-fatsos">vitriol</a>, but that hasn’t stopped officials in other cities from following his lead. Earlier this month, the mayor of Philadelphia said that Bloomberg’s proposal is “<a href="http://dailycaller.com/2012/06/08/philly-mayor-mulls-bloombergs-soda-ban-after-opening-shake-shack/">worth evaluating</a>.” Then, this week, a Los Angeles city council member proposed that sodas be <a href="http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/06/la-parks-libraries-should-offer-healthier-beverages-councilman-says.html">banned from vending machines</a> in parks and libraries, and Cambridge’s mayor asked the city council to think about <a href="http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2012/6/20/cambridge-considers-soda-ban/">limiting the sizes</a> of sugary drinks in restaurants. Considering the backlash against Bloomberg, why are these city officials jumping to take up his cause? </div> <div> The simple answer is that sodas really are a public health concern. Childhood obesity in the United States has <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html">tripled since 1980</a>, and <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html">more than 35 percent</a> of American adults are obese. In Los Angeles County, <a href="http://www.kcet.org/updaily/1st_and_spring/public-health/obesity-rising-in-los-angeles-county.html">more than half of adults</a> are overweight or obese. You hardly need <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16895873">a scientist to tell you</a> that sodas are “a key contributor to the epidemic of overweight and obesity.” </div> <div> Now, a quick reality check: Bloomberg’s proposal is <a href="http://www.good.is/post/cola-wars-the-big-loopholes-dooming-bloomberg-s-soda-ban">riddled with loopholes</a> and <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jun/04/news/la-heb-soda-ban-20120602">probably won’t even work</a>, so if these other cities end up with proposals anything like his, then soda isn’t going anywhere, at least not any time soon. Even if cities did start developing well-designed plans to reduce soda consumption, they’d have to confront legitimate questions about how far government can go to restrict personal behavior in the name of the public good.</div> <div> Even if no soda bans are ever implemented, maybe these cities will make some of us reevaluate our choices, just by sparking a conversation about sugary beverages. In other words, next time you want a large soda with your lunch, maybe you’ll take a moment to be grateful that you have the option—and then decide to pour yourself a cup of water instead.</div> <div> <em>Photo via <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sodas.JPG">Wikimedia Commons</a></em>\n</div>
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