Would a Supersize Soda Ban Change Your Family’s Drinking Habits?

Mason has never had a soda, and I’m hoping to keep it that way for a long time. It’s not that I’m worried he’ll become obese if he drinks it–he’s still a tall string bean of a kid, even though he has a huge appetite–it’s a health issue. All that sugar is linked to Diabetes and heart disease. And since he loves milk and water, I don’t see any point in hooking him on a junk-drink.

And surely it’s my right as a parent to decide what my son will drink, including exactly how much of it he will consume, right?

Well, mostly.

A new law in New York City, where we live, now bans supersize non-diet soda, sweetened teas, and other high-calorie beverages (defined as anything larger than 16 ounces) from being sold in cafeterias, restaurants, theaters, and fast-food joints.

Although I’ve supported the gross-out ads that run on TV and are plastered on subway cars to encourage people to think twice before tossing back a sugary drink–Americans do drink too much soda–this ban annoys me for several reasons:

* Mayor Michael Bloomberg has taken it upon himself to champion a law that tells New Yorkers what we can and cannot drink. (Remember, he’s also the one who decided to lock up formula in hospitals.) Why should he have that right?

* The ban isn’t very smart. People can just go to a place where free refills are offered and drink as much sugar as they wish. If there aren’t refills, they can purchase two sodas. Or, they can go to the store and buy a jumbo bottle of soda. If sugar is the real concern here, why not look at smart ways to better regulate sugar?

* If health is the key concern, why aren’t there limits on drinks with artificial sweeteners? A recent study showed that massive quantities of diet soda is linked to a higher risk of stroke and heart attack. Researchers also found that diet soda packs on the pounds, too.

Bottom line is that this law isn’t going to change what Mason drinks–or, frankly, what we drink in our household. We don’t drink mass quantities of soda, but if we wanted to, we would. I think it should be our choice what we consume, not the government’s decision.

Would a ban like this where you live influence how much soda your family drinks?

Photo: Glass of soda via uchschen/Shutterstock.com

Should Sugar Be Regulated As a Toxin? And What About Artificial Sweeteners?

I’m passionate about mindful eating, particularly since I’ve become a mom, so I try to stay on top of the latest news about what we eat and drink. Sugar and artificial sweeteners come up a lot–after all, these substances can adversely affect our children’s health (and ours), yet so many of us consume them without a second thought. Two recent reports about sugar and artificial sweeteners came my way this morning, and I think both offer important information.

Let’s start with the report about sugar. According to a LiveScience.com report: Sugar and other sweeteners are, in fact, so toxic to the human body that they should be regulated as strictly as alcohol by governments worldwide, according to a commentary in the current issue of the journal Nature by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

These researchers propose regulations such as taxing all foods and drinks that include added sugar, banning sales in or near schools and placing age limits on purchases, according to the report. They make a pretty convincing case that, as noted in the report, “added sugar–or, more specifically, sucrose, an even mix of glucose and fructose found in high-fructose corn syrup and in table sugar made from sugar cane and sugar beets–has been as detrimental to society as alcohol and tobacco.”

I love the idea of tougher regulations on sugar, particularly since, as writer Christopher Wanjek points out, it’s been proven to increase your blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as your risk for liver failure, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. These regulations would affect me, too–sugary drinks are my downfall. As I write this blog post I’m sipping on a (sugary) caramel latte, and it’s absolutely delish.

But while we’re at it, why stop with sugar?

I also vote for controls on artificial sweeteners and products that contain artificial sweeteners. I try to avoid artificial sweeteners–and I don’t give Mason anything with artificial sweetener–but when I really need an Orange Crush or a Cherry Coke, the diet option sometimes wins out. As a busy working mom, I don’t have the luxury of my pre-preggo personal training sessions at the gym, and I worry about getting fat. Turns out my vanity, and perhaps even yours, could put us at greater risk for cardiac problems–and our logic appears to be wrong about diet soda keeping the pounds at bay, anyway.

A new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine shows that drinking diet soda every day is linked with a higher risk of stroke and heart attack, according to a report published yesterday in The Huffington Post. (Researchers did not find the same risk with people who drank diet soda more occasionally, between six a week and once a month.) Why do some people drink so much diet soda? According to Health.com, the explanation is really quite simple:

Although diet soda clearly isn’t as addictive as a drug like nicotine, experts say the rituals that surround diet soda and the artificial sweeteners it contains can make some people psychologically — and even physically — dependent on it in ways that mimic more serious addictions. And unlike sugared soda, which will make you gain weight if you drink too much of it, zero-calorie soda doesn’t seem to have an immediate downside that prevents people from overindulging.

However, according to HuffPo, a study presented at the American Diabetes Association meeting showed that drinking diet soda is linked with having a wider waistline. So much for that diet soda = skinny waist logic. In a statement, study researcher Helen P. Hazuda, Ph.D., a professor and chief of clinical epidemiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio’s School of Medicine, says: “Data from this and other prospective studies suggest that the promotion of diet sodas and artificial sweeteners as healthy alternatives may be ill-advised. They may be free of calories but not of consequences.”

Thoughts? Share them here!

Photos: Shutterstock, area381 (sugar); Shutterstock, ER_09 (soda)