Cris LaBossiere

Cris LaBossiere
Strength training and mountain biking. My two favorites

Monday, January 7, 2013

Food police: banning junk food

You would think that with all yammering I do about how bad overeating is that I would be immediately in favor of junk food bans like the one being implemented in New York which limits the sale of servings larger than 16 oz soda's, or pop if you're Canada.

I say limits the sale because although you won't be able to indulge your preference for ginormous servings of pop from restaurants in New York City in a single serving, you will still be able to buy 32 oz'ers and more at supermarkets and convenience stores.  So yeah they call it a ban, but it's not as slash and burn as some are making it out to be.  You can still get 54 ounce of soda at 7-11. There is no ban at 7-11, where overeating is still very convenient.

You can simply order two or more 16oz soda's at the same time if you want, if you're in a restaurant where the 'ban' is.  So not really a ban.

Here are the nutrition facts for 16 and 32 oz servings of pop from
Lot's of sugar, only traces of nutrients.

16 fl oz, 470ml, about 2 cups

32 fl oz, 9.5 ml, about 4 cups

By today's standards 2 cups of pop is hardly considered ginormous, but it isn't necessarily a good thing to have become so complacent with consuming too much that we now regard over-serving as normal.

A person is still likely to order a pop like they normally would.

Some of the arguments for these bans:

Will limit overconsumption of pop for some people.

Will support the idea that drinking lot's of pop isn't really a good idea.

If people follow through, the average weight of people should decline over time improving the health of people and saving money on health care.

May start to cause the population to make changes in how they think about buying junk food, reducing the perceived need.

Some of the cons..

Nanny state interfering with freedom of choice.

No real eating behavior change will take place as people can still buy pop at other places.

That's all great about the pro's and con's.  Except that despite the uproar about nanny state, there isn't really a ban at all in NYC, if you understand the details of the ban.  So for those crying about their rights being taken away, this has not happend.  You can still order as much soda as you want, anywhere and anytime you want in New York City.

Ok, so there isn't really a ban on soda's in NYC.  It's a political move meant to get people thinking about what they're consuming, or so they say.

So what about that; and what about the actual idea of junk food bans?

Everyone who currently consumes too much will be healthier if they consume less and lose weight.  Healthcare costs will go down if the population becomes more healthy.

This really would happen if we ate less.

So how do we get there?  By forcing people?

We've all heard the argument that individuals can make their own choices, good or bad, and that people are smart enough to choose for themselves.

Might be smart enough to choose for themselves but obviously don't.

That's just a simple reality.  One that's tough to acknowledge for many individuals.  People clearly are not making the best choices with food intake despite the argument they are fully capable of doing so without government intervention.

So this argument doesn't really seem all that valid, given the actual practical reality, which is quite removed from theory; people are not choosing very well, to the detriment of their own health and  increasing the cost of healthcare for the nation.

The majority of the population does in fact make poor choices over and over again where overeating is concerned.  That's a simple population statistic that is real and has been repeatedly measured for the past two decades, at least.

It's this true statistic that is the main drive behind pushing legislation to reduce overeating food choices.

The civil liberty argument wisely says people can choose for themselves and will naturally resolve to make the right choice because of the natural need for self preservation, and because right to choose is a constitutional choice.

Not really, and sort of.

Again, the reality is; we as a population are clearly not demonstrating our capacity to make the right choices where our health is concerned.  Not right now anyway.  Maybe we can learn.

It is true that individual freedom is a right, but we also have laws that set realistic limits.  For instance we can't get away with drunk driving because we choose to. I'm not saying drink driving is exactly the same as overeating, although more people die annually in Canada from complications due to obesity (25,000) than do from drunk driving (1300ish).  The numbers are far greater for the US, but still heavily weighted towards obesity.

What I am saying is that we take drunk driving seriously like we should, but not so much with chronic year over year overeating and excess weight gain across the population.  Nobody is MADD about overeating.  Quite the opposite.

I think there is merit to the idea that although at first people will oppose junk food bans, over time enough people will adapt.  In addition to all the public education that is out there if we simply get rid of the opportunity to overeat in many of the places where we typically overeat, then over time people get used to and appreciate the healthier choices.

Or, that could be a nice academic argument, but not necessarily the way public opinion adapts over time.

I think there is also merit to the idea that banning junk food will simply cause people to flip the bird to big brother and get their fix somewhere else.  Or that the principal of 'food police' is such a slap in the face that people will get stuck on that and ignore the actual overeating issue.

Governments appear to be at their whits end (not hard to do when you're short on whits), and are expressing that nothing else is working, people aren't getting it (which is true), so bans are in.

I really do personally have a huge problem with the fact that the vast majority of restaurant meals are over 1000 calories.  1000 + calories?  That's a joke.  A cruel joke.

I am in a very small minority.  I have been so disappointed so many times at virtually every restaurant I have been to that I have almost stopped going to restaurants all together.  From my perspective most are selling gross slop that isn't worth eating.  Oh sure, much of it tastes good, and has a nice presentation, but it is so demonstrably bad from a health perspective that for me the meal is crap and a complete let down and waste of money.

No, I don't have an anti-restaurant thing.  Just looking for some half decent product I can spend my money on. I actually want to go to restaurants because I enjoy the experience.  I also enjoy eating at home so I'm not really feeling like I'm at that much of a loss by eating out less than I have in the past.

You see, I no longer buy into the idea that part of eating out is the reward of the overindulgence.  Overindulgence isn't all that compelling to me anymore.  I want to indulge in great tasting healthy food, not in slabs of fat covered in sugar and salt, made to look nice.

Iv'e got room for a desert of chocolate badness as long as it's not too freaky big, but I don't have room for the 800 calorie appetizer, the 1200 calorie, meal, and the 500 calorie desert.  And when nearly all meals are over 1000 calories and there are only 2 or 3 choices under 1000 cals, my choices are far more limited than what the fat bomb part of the menu offers.  Further, most of the lower calorie meals are simply smallar versions of the bigger fat bombs.  The smallar meals aren't all that healthy either.

I'm not making this about me.  Ok maybe a little.. What I want to show is that demand for unhealthy meals is so large that even if you want to eat healthy, your choices are are far less compared to calorie bomb choices.  Try to ban any part of this and you'll upset a lot of people who buy into and sell the huge meals.

People want huge meals and restaurants are all too happy to promise bigger meals for better deals, and neither the seller nor buyer want's restrictions on this access to a whole lotta love.

I do see a light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully it's not astigmatism. One that might not require junk food bans, or fake bans like the one in New York.

With no junk food or calorie bans, many restaurants are starting to serve healthier choices and some restaurants shtick is presenting an entirely healthy menue, and these restaurants although small in number, are typically very busy.

As much as I dislike the idea of selling calorie bomb meals because of how seriously bad they truly are, I can't get passed thinking that bans might backfire or might not be as effective as promised.

Maybe though, people will personally get sick of feeling like crap from overeating and will gradually demand healthier meals.  If this happens restaurants will respond with delivering healthier products.

The trend for overeating is currently still growing and is larger than the trend to eat and live healthy.

Maybe the junk food ban is actually part of the healthy trend and we can't see it yet because we're so into junk food right now.

Maybe the junk food ban is an act of desperation and not well thought out.

In the end though, no matter how much I write or anyone writes about how passionately they feel about their view and quoting statistics, law, and precedent, and calorie counts, eating healthy is factually dramatically better than eating too much.   Eating too much does cause personal harm.

In the end we all make our choices.  It is ultimately an individuals choice.  Right now most are willing to defend the idea that overeating is not only a personal choice, but also the preferencial choice.

When I made the switch it wasn't from someone telling me to do so or a government intervention.  It was because it seemed to me that the healthy choices had more to offer in return that the calorie bomb meals I used to adore.

If more healthy choices are made all this goes away, and for the better.

Here is a great video on the New York City 'soda ban'. It's funny and to the point.

No comments:

Post a Comment