In the last several weeks there has been a great deal of controversy over Mayor Bloomberg’s decision to prohibit the sale of sugary drinks greater than sixteen ounces. The reason being that many individuals in the world of nutrition have targeted sugar as the anti-Christ that is behind the obesity epidemic. Do I think drinking a calorie laden beverage loaded with sugar is healthy? No, I don’t, but what I find ridiculous is that Bloomberg and others who are in agreement with his plan are opening Pandora’s box. Where will it end? Is a double cheeseburger topped with bacon and a side order of large fries any less problematic? And what about the portions served in restaurants across America that could feed a small village? I have ordered a plate of spaghetti that I ended up eating over a three-day period. Who is going to be the watch dog over the goodies sold at movie theaters? If you try to buy a small soda and popcorn you are actually charged more money. You get perks for purchasing a vat of popcorn and a giant coke that could double as a kiddie pool.
What I find interesting is that there is no discussion on the fact that obesity is not simply about curtailing an individuals’ intake of sugary liquids. The fact of the matter is that over the years our society has become invested in eating mindlessly. People eat while their driving, while they’re talking on their cell phones, even while their walking down the street. I’m sure we’re going to see the day when they put microwaves and pizza ovens in cars. We have also become invested in “more is better” in all areas of our lives. This type of mindset creates stress which leads to overeating as a way to comfort ourselves. Our days are filled with trying to connect through gadgets that simply increase feelings of isolation. Food is sandwiched in-between the busyness that has become a way of life, rather than taking the time to cook, savor and share with friends and family. Until we are able to see the whole picture as the realty of an unbalanced lifestyle, we will continue to try to find the obesity culprit. Perhaps we should also consider the fact that encouraging accountability for ones’ behavior is one of the most important values we can teach beginning at a very young age. If I can’t develop the ability to self regulate my emotions and be accountable for what I choose to value than we will have no choice but to be at the mercy of other people’s dictates.