Submitted on June 12, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s large-size soda ban may be a running start to break the ice in tackling America’s obesity crisis.

In an effort to curb the ever-soaring obesity rates–in New York City, about 58% of adults overweight or obese and 21.3% of children obese (according to the NYC Obesity Task Force Plan)–the ban would limit all sugary soft drinks to 16oz. in restaurants, movie theaters and street carts. (It would not apply to convenience or grocery stores.)

While many see the ban as a “nanny” government’s restrictive and liberty-binding act which doesn’t pinpoint the root of the problem (as seen in the comic below), there are many reasons why the ban is effective, specifically because it targets what seems a “lesser” issue initially.

Criticism against the soda ban

First of all, Bloomberg’s ban is an act that finally follows through on copious “obesity talk” in government and finds a more subtle way to introduce legislative changes.

Some argue that instead of forcing people to change their habits, we should be educating them in order to help them make amendments themselves. However, limiting one’s soda intake–a form of portion control–could be seen as exactly that. After all, experiential learning has been shown to be most effective in certain circumstances: people find they are just as satiated with a smaller quantity. It has been shown that people generally follow the serving size suggested, and that is what is being moderated, not one’s liberty to choose. A drop in percentage of soda consumption can not only be reflected onto one’s plate (smaller portions of food) but also increase people’s water intake.

Another criticism the ban has received is that it is not the government’s job to tell people what they should or shouldn’t drink. However, the government is not legislating what or how much people can drink, it is simply creating a standard. Also, the government is responsible to a certain extent because of the cost of obesity. According to CNN, “America spends as much as $147 billion annually on the direct and indirect costs of obesity. In the year of the most recent CDC study, 2006, that made up 9.1 percent of medical spending.” Where do tax-payers dollars go?

Informative and stark truth advertisements in favor of the large-size soda ban

In conjunction with Bloomberg’s large-size soda ban advertisements (like the one seen above), the implementation of smaller standard drinks also brings up public questions on health, making us more conscious of the risks of our dietary choices. Perhaps we won’t be so quick to pick the pop next time.

This may not be the cure for our colossal problem, but it surely is a strong first step.

Other articles which provide a lot of great information are as follows:


New York Times — Obesity Ills That Won’t Budge Fuel Soda Battle by Bloomberg

PBS News Hour — Bloomberg Could Buy the World a Coke, but He’d Make it a Small

Pursue Natural — War on obesity and diabetes by reducing intake of drinks with sugar to 16oz in New York City

No Sleep = No Leap

Sleep is not for wimps! After reading a chapter of Bronson and Merryman’s Nurture Shock called “The Lost Hour,” I was amazed to learn why I have suffered. As a high school student, I have found it increasingly difficult to keep my motivation and suppress stress while the workload piles up and the lights don’t go down. Of course, it’s counterintuitive to go to sleep when there’s plenty more to do. Why not do today what could be done tomorrow?

Robbing sleeptime has become a nightly habit for many. However, new science has shown just how destructive this ever increasing human tendency is, not only affecting us emotionally and intellectually, but physically as well. For example, Nurture Shock tells us that “negative stimuli get processed by the amygdala; positive or neutral memories get processed by the hippocampus. Sleep deprivation hits the hippocampus harder than the amygdala. This result is that sleep-deprived people fail to recall pleasant memories, yet recall gloomy memories just fine.” The result: depression.

Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, from which all quotes are cited

Sleep is especially critical for children. In the past thirty years, the amount of sleep that teens and pre-teens are getting per night has plummeted, “half of all adolescents getting less than seven hours of sleep on weeknights.” With “a quarter admitting that their grades have dropped because of it,” there is conclusive evidence to show why. Not only does sleep loss stunt the body’s extraction of glucose from the bloodstream–specifically inhibiting the prefrontal cortex which administers the prediction of consequences to actions and “thoughts to fulfill a goal,” but it also debilitates the process of learning. During sleep, the brain performs many activities to process new knowledge, storing it to memory throughout all waves of sleep. This means that without enough sleep, we are not able to remember all that we have learned and we’ve just been wasting our time. We need sleep!

With regard to obesity, especially childhood obesity, sleep regulates our appetite, helps break down our fat, and gives us enough energy to do exercise in the day. “Sleep loss increases the hormone ghrelin, which signals hunger, and decreases its metabolic opposite, leptin, which suppresses appetite. Sleep loss also elevates the stress hormone cortisol,” which stimulates our bodies to make fat. Results from three different studies testing the effect of sleep loss on rates of obesity (done in Japan, Canada, and Australia) concluded that “kids who get less than eight hours sleep have about a 300% higher rate of obesity than those who get a full ten hours of sleep.”

Sleep has a cumulative effect. You miss 2 hours per night for 7 nights; you’re basically going without 14 hours of sleep! That is not good! Proof: “University of Pennsylvania’s Dr. Dinges did an experiment shortening adults’ sleep to six hours a night. After two weeks, they reported that they were doing okay. Yet on a battery of tests, they proved to be just as impaired as someone who has stayed awake for 24 hours straight.”

We are all humans; we cannot elude the dynamics of cause and effect. So let’s get off our bums and go to bed!