My brother Sam does not have diabetes, but he and I think alike when it comes to diet and nutrition. We both agree that carbs and sugar are not good for people with diabetes, or for anyone else. So I wasn’t surprised, but I was delighted, to find he’d published a hilarious article in this week’s NYT’s Sunday Review poking fun at the The New Yorkers for Beverage Choices organization (and more).
The New Yorkers for Beverage Choices opposses New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to a ban the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages over 16 ounces in restaurants, movie theaters, sports venues, coffee shops, pizza shops, delis, food trucks or carts. According to their website, New Yorkers for Beverage Choices believes New York City residents and visitors should have the right to buy beverages in any size they choose.
This reminds me of 2010 Krispy Kreme Challenge, an event wherein participants ran a mile or so, ate up to a dozen doughnuts, and then ran back. The event took place in order to raise money for JDRF. On a website that no long exists the following was posted, “the theme of this year’s JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes is “Freedom” (freedom from diabetes), so people are participating in this event so that those with type 1 diabetes will have the freedom to eat donuts.” My brother, in his satirical Bill of Rights, points out, “A well-stocked fridge, being necessary to the stuffing of the face, the right of the people to consume alarmingly large sandwiches washed down by more than 16 fluid ounces of soda shall not be infringed; nor shall any person have to answer for the number of sticky buns consumed in a single sitting, except in a time of public danger, such as a Congressionally declared sticky-bun shortage.”
So back to the beverage ban, do I think the ban will help curb the obesity epidemic? No. Not at all. I think it’s a nice attempt at raising awareness to the fact that drinks, not just food, are full of sugar and calories, and that bigger doesn’t mean better. But despite the fact that I don’t think this ban will be effective, I don’t follow the logic of the objectors. Diabetic or not, consuming large sugar-sweetened beverages is bad for us. You really can’t argue otherwise. So I suggest the New Yorkers for Beverage Choices take on a new, positive campaign. Rather than saying don’t let the mayor tell us what size beverage to buy, I suggest ads that feature New Yorkers buying 32 ounce cups of water or sparkling water at food trucks,restaurants, and sports venues. Beverage Choices. New Yorkers can choose water.
The issue of “don’t tell me what to eat/drink” comes up often in the diabetes community, and the up and coming Ice Cream Social on August 4th really highlights this. The Second Annual Diabetic Ice Cream Social is a day in which people with diabetes raise awareness about diabetes by celebrating their freedom to eat ice cream. The event’s Facebook page says, “NO ONE should tell us what we can, or cannot eat. We CHOOSE what we want to eat, and what we can handle… And we have glucose meters, and a vast array of glucose control tools to help us make our decisions!” (And people with diabetes in New York city are still free to wash down that ice cream with a 32 ounce cup of Coke.)
I view this Social as childish and I believe the right to eat and drink junk food does not need a platform nor should it be celebrated. The supersize issues here are not how big your cup is, or how many scoops of ice cream you can eat before your blood sugar hits 250. The real issue is health – the health of people with diabetes and the health of the entire population of the United States of America. We as a community can be at the forefront of the battle for good health, which means standing up for each and every attempt to reduce sugar intake, or we can shame ourselves by proving that we have the tools to be just as unhealthy as the next girl next door.
We can raise diabetes awareness by calling for better health care and better tools, and by teaching the world how difficult it is for people with diabetes to eat a treat like ice cream.
New Yorkers for Beverage Choices is posing the question What’s next? as part of their campaign. What’s next? Look at the people around you. Look at the statistics. The answer is obvious – unless we all start stepping up to the sugar free plate.