National Editor Tom Karst
National Editor Tom Karst

Is it the nanny state run amok or enlightened management of public health?

Do you think states/cities should impose limits on the container size of sugared beverages like pop?

I posed that question to the Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group this week, and I’m anxious to hear the views of readers of The Packer as well.

One member said:

Container size means nothing when it comes to unlimited refills.. or refill at a discounted cost. This is the most ridiculous bunch of bureaucratic nonsense... IMO. Get people moving. Motivate everyone, get everyone out and about doing things that are productive for the community. Implementing citywide incentives to "get out and about" would be much more productive in the national weight gain/watch plan Obama is on. Just a thought. GRRR Politicians.

I like the reader’s focus on incentives, and it appears the courts also may not be keen on putting the kibosh on Super Big Gulps.

The New York Supreme Court ruled against the New York City’s soda restrictions in this decision. NYC Mayor Bloomberg, of course, disagreed with the court’s view that the law was capricious and overreaching and indicated an appeal was likely. Check out this Huff Post article for some of the science supporting the soda limits.

Even among those who think the soda ban is over the top, I'll bet most would accept the fact that government should play some role at all in the administration of public health.
For example, do we want beer sold out of vending machines?

In schools, few would balk at the fact that USDA/school districts have a hand in what is sold at  vending machines.

Elevating one choice and taking away another can help engineer outcomes, after all. And shouldn’t governments go full tilt to reduce the long term public health costs caused by obesity.

For example, this study reveals that mandating fruits and vegetables in schools can be an effective tool to increase fruit and vegetable consumption in adolescents.

True, I wouldn’t like to live under the heavy hand of soda restrictions. Give me my large $1 Coke from McDonalds, please. But there should be no hesitation in elevating one option  (fruits and vegetables) and reducing the pull of other choices (sugary drinks) when it comes to delivering publically-funded food assistance.