Regarding the June 3 news article “New York’s plan to curb soda size stirs new controversy over obesity”:
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) should be lauded for his efforts to limit the sale of excessively portioned, sugar-sweetened beverages. With more than two-thirds of the U.S. population considered overweight or obese, the war on obesity requires an attack on all fronts. One hopes that Mr. Bloomberg’s efforts will at least highlight the significant role that sugar-sweetened beverages play in this epidemic.
A recent report from the nonpartisan Institute of Medicine estimates that sugar-sweetened beverages account for at least 20 percent of the weight increase in the United States between 1977 to 2007. According to the same report, such beverages represent the largest share of calories and are the largest contributor of added sugars in all individuals more than 2 years of age.
As a bariatric physician, I realize that reducing the overconsumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is only one method of tackling the obesity epidemic. A problem as complex as obesity requires a multidisciplinary approach with cooperation from every segment of society. But true behavior change must always begin with the individual.
Joseph P. Gurrala, Reston
Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to restrict the sale of large servings of soda comes at a critical time for health policy in the United States. For years I have been wondering when we would have the guts to challenge Big Gulps and the increasingly accepted status quo of oversize portions. So kudos to New York City. If only the rest of the country could follow suit, we would be well on our way to addressing the obesity epidemic in the United States.
Eliminating oversize portions of sugary drinks is not an infringement on freedom (we have the right to buy another soda if we want more); it’s responsible public health policy.
Nicole Cheetham, Washington
Michael Bloomberg’s proposed restrictions on soda attacks the problem of obesity the wrong way. There are alternatives that are far superior and contain fewer command-and-control elements, which history has shown do not work. The solution to excessive consumption of sodas is simple: Tax sodas.
If consuming sugary drinks contributes to obesity, and if obesity costs the country $190 billion a year, the policy that would benefit society the most is to tax this negative externality — just as the government does with cigarettes.
Raising the price of sodas could reduce the quantity consumed. Instead of proposing a policy that is full of holes and bound to fail, Mr. Bloomberg should simply impose a soda tax.
Philip Young, Chevy Chase