How can this woman be so skinny and drink so much Coke? Because, no chairs!

How can this woman be so skinny and drink so much Coke? Because, no chairs!

Catch this new fight-against-obesity ad by the fight-against-obesity experts over at Coca-Cola?

Hey Coca-Cola, how come one in every three American kids are overweight or obese and two in every three American adults are overweight or obese, but LITERALLY every person in your commercial is slim?

Also, NO. Don’t blame the chairs. You are embarrassing yourself. Seriously. Go away.

Too frustrated to write about all the ways the corporate speak in this commercial makes me want to punch The Man in the face, so instead I will post CSPI’s parody of Coca-Cola’s first anti-obesity commercial, which premiered during this year’s Superbowl. 


Bittman, Buzzfeed, and the Ban

Palin / Big Gulp ticket in 2016!

There was a great piece from Mark Bittman in the NYTimes yesterday on the Soda Ban ruling. Best things about this article: 1) the quote below and 2) the Buzzfeed citation.

“Research shows that we’ll consume pretty much whatever quantity we’re served, and be satisfied with it. If 16 ounces of soda isn’t enough for you, the ban would not, of course, have prohibited your purchase of two 16-ounce containers; the idea was to make you think twice before doing so.

What, exactly, makes that capricious? The Board of Health was operating entirely within its mission; it could not apply the ban in every place where soda is sold because it doesn’t have jurisdiction everywhere. But it does have jurisdiction over more than 20,000 restaurants and 5,000 mobile food vendors.”

Why is this quote important? Because it highlights what I think is the most important argument in this debate: We need to start somewhere. Sure, 20,000 restaurants and 5,000 mobile food vendors isn’t completely comprehensive coverage, but it’s still impressive reach and way better than doing nothing.

The more I think about this issue, the more I believe that the Soda Ban is the best possible option for NYC, more than half of whose residents are overweight. I believe that it is important for a government to clearly state through rule-making when it condemns a certain kind of behavior because it helps change public opinion over time. The government has made these statements about driving without a seatbelt and smoking, and you don’t have to watch more than a few episodes of Mad Men to figure out that the general population’s opinion about letting kids in a car without a seatbelt and smoking in literally every room you enter throughout the day have changed significantly over time. I think the national conversation about our obesity epidemic would get catapulted forward if the NYC Board of Health was permitted to make a similarly credible statement about the dangers of consuming 2-4 servings of high-sugar and low-nutrient beverages regularly. We will see what happens on appeal.

A few people have argued to me recently that a soda tax would be much more effective and equitable. True, but don’t forget that in 2010, Bloomberg urged state legislators to pass a soda tax that would have brought an additional penny per ounce of sugared soda sold to the state. It failed to pass.

Others (I’m looking at you Jon Stewart) argue that the Soda Ban represents an uncomfortable constraint on individual rights. This baffles me. You know what is an uncomfortable constraint on individual rights? The unmitigated clout of the processed food and soda lobbies on our legislative process. Sugar and corn shouldn’t cost what they do, the products that rely on these cheap inputs shouldn’t be allowed to make health and wellness claims without oversight, and that marketing doesn’t need to take place, unrestricted, in every airport, hospital, office and school in the nation.

If you want a little more insight into the sinister influence of the beverage industry in our country, today the Center for Science in the Public Interest released a new report titled “Selfish Giving: How the Soda Industry Uses Philanthropy to Sweeten its Profits.” The report sheds light on the numerous self-serving motives behind the beverage-industry’s charity and the impact of this charity on efforts to reduce sugar sweetened beverage consumption in the United States. If you look at this report and the Buzzfeed piece and still feel like the real villain in this soda story is Nanny Bloomberg, then I want to hear about it.

Soda Ban Ruling Recap: Everything You Need to Know

Thank you Daily News.

Thank you Daily News.

Official Ruling here.

Judge Bursts Bloomberg’s Soda Ban BubbleCourthouse News on the Soda Ban ruling; good summary of the strongly worded decision.

A Legal Guide to the Soda Ban RulingWSJ answers some legal FAQs. While I recognize that the ban was problematic due to uneven enforcement, personally, I agree with Jennifer Pomeranz, director of legal initiatives at Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity:

“The authority of the department of health is the exact same authority [in both cases]. It doesn’t make sense to me that the trans fat ban is legal, and they struck this down.”

NYC Soda Ban Struck Down. Paves Way for Eventual Soda TaxFooducate on the Soda Ban ruling; includes five main arguments crafted by the beverage industry and counterpoints. (Note how the silhouette of the person in the Anti-Soda Ban poster is muscular and fit.)

Corporate health 1, public health 0: Judge nixes Bloomberg soda cap–Marion Nestle on the Soda Ban ruling; quotes Michael Jacobson, Executive Director of CSPI, with a hopeful perspective of the long-term consequences of the ruling:

“When the city became the first to require calorie counts on chain restaurant menus, the industry similarly tried to use the courts to stop that measure from taking effect. Ultimately, the city prevailed, paving the way for other jurisdictions, and eventually Congress, to pass similar calorie labeling measures. We are confident that the city will prevail here. Many years hence, people will look back and think it was crazy for sugar drinks to ever be served in 32- and 64-ounce pails.”

Cheering a Setback to the City’s Drink LimitsNYT on Soda Ban ruling, mostly criticism of the ban, like this low blow:

“Eating healthfully is different when you don’t have a lot of money to spend,” she said. “And that’s something the mayor probably didn’t think about, because he didn’t have to.”

Convincing argument, except water is free.

Soda Wars Backlash: Mississippi Passes ‘Anti-Bloomberg’ BillNPR on Mississippi’s baffling response to the Soda Ban, where they defend themselves against the overreaching nanny state by banning counties and towns from enacting local rules related to nutrition and health.

“A bill now on the governor’s desk would bar counties and towns from enacting rules that require calorie counts to be posted, that cap portion sizes, or that keep toys out of kids’ meals. “The Anti-Bloomberg Bill” garnered wide bipartisan support in both chambers of the legislature in a state where one in three adults is obese, the highest rate in the nation.”

Sugary drinks linked to greater high-calorie food intake, study finds–In case you were waffling on the need for government regulation on this issue, note this new study confirming not-so-new knowledge: intakes of sugar-sweetened drinks are associated with increased calorie consumption of other foods such as sweets and pizza in children, warn researchers.

In closing, thanks to this ruling, instead of long-awaited government action on our obesity epidemic becoming effective today, on Tuesday, March 12th, 2013, we can instead look forward to a couple more months, years or possibly decades of this:

On Monday, Christopher Gindlesperger, a spokesman for the American Beverage Association said that the court decision “provides a sigh of relief. With this ruling behind us, we look forward to collaborating with city leaders on solutions that will have a meaningful and lasting impact on the people of New York City.”

Great. Because these are the guys that totally have our back.




On the End of Democracy in America


In honor of Bloomberg’s Soda Ban, which goes in effect tomorrow, Tuesday, March 12th, here’s a great piece from Marion Nestle (Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at NYU; prolific writer and brilliant advocate for the food movement; the Michael Pollan of the East Coast) from today’s New York Daily News.

Notable quote:

“Soda companies may make things you like to drink, but they are not social service agencies. Their job is to get you to buy more soda to satisfy the financial demands of investors. They are about business. They are not about fun or happiness or personal choice – and they certainly are not about health. The soda industry may profess to care more about your well-being these days, but it ultimately will not do anything to promote health if doing so harms sales.”

The quote stuck out to me because over the last week I have had a ton of conversations about accountability and our national health crisis. To sum up the debate in a tangled trifecta of positions: Is it up to the consumer to make better choices for themselves and their families, is it up to the industry to self-regulate and limit the amount of sugar, fat, salt, chemicals and processing techniques involved in their products, or is up to the government to direct consumer choices and police food companies?

Since the question isn’t about to get answered in the next 48 hours, I hope you will forgive me for leaving you hanging, but I’d like to put together something a little more substantial before jumping into the fray. In the interim, take a look at Nestle’s article and feel free to post your two cents!