Last Friday, I held a workshop at PS261 in Brooklyn leading the 1st graders into battle against General Junk and his evil army of Sugar Soldiers. (Yes, my job IS awesome!) We learned all about the detrimental effects of sugar on our bodies and how much healthier, stronger and more energetic we are without it. After 45 min, they were able to tell me that they wanted to drink more water, less soda and wanted their bodies to be healthy and strong. Ok, so there may have been a little bit of prompting on my part, but they are 7 and able to grasp the basic fundamentals of healthy nutrition.
My question is, why can't adults do the same? There has a lot of controversy in the media over Bloomberg's proposed sugar war this week in NYC. (Read about it here.) Intelligent adults are in an uproar that he is trying to ban sugary drinks over 16oz. Do you realize how much sugar is in a 16oz Coke? 7 teaspoons. Just in case you can't put that into perspective, I measured out 7 tsp for you in the glass above. The new AHA guidelines recommend a daily maximum of 5 tsp for women, 9 tsp for men, and 3tsp for children. Maybe the new sugary drink ban should be lowered to 8oz instead of 16.
Bloomberg is asking New Yorkers to take into consideration the amount of sugar we are putting into our bodies...something we have trouble comprehending on our own. He also banned smoking in NYC restaurants and put calorie counts on our menus. Are you going to tell me those were bad ideas?
When did you last think to yourself upon ordering a "biggie" sized anything, "Oh my! That's a lot of sugar!" You didn't. You won't. And the ban isn't proposing a limit on how many 16oz sugar loaded drinks you can order. Most places will probably still give you as many refills as your chemically overloaded body desires. It just means you have to get up from the table and exercise while walking to the refill station. Guess what? When you order a water, they hand you an 8oz cup. You don't get the option to upgrade. Ironically the healthier water drinkers take MANY walks back and forth to the refill station while watching all the sugar guzzlers happily gulp away in their zombie-like state.
I'm ranting now.
When a 7yr old can make healthier choices after 45 minutes of battling General Junk's Sugar Soldiers than an adult can make after YEARS of being educated, it tells me we can no longer use the excuse we don't know any better. The media warns us everyday about the effects of sugar, fat, high calories, etc. Granted, they are enticing us with high fructose corn syrup dripping from an over sized bacon burger during the commercial break, but it doesn't give us the right to play the victim. Our society just doesn't want someone else telling us our lifestyle choices are wrong.
You can be angry and spout sugar comma induced comments, but I'm fighting for your well-being! Instead of complaining against Bloomberg's new ban because it's an "infringement" of human rights, remember that you can still drink as many 16oz bottles of sugary soda as you please. There's no harm in bringing an awareness to the public.
Now stop being angry and go drink a glass of water!
Joanie Johnson, CHC