2012-06-13 / Editorials

Other Voices

What’s next?
Mitch Clarke

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made his case to ban supersized sugary soft drinks, and the reaction of a lot of New Yorkers is just what you’d expect.

“I’ll give you my Slurpee when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!”

What’s next for hizzoner? Maybe he thinks pizza slices need to be thinner. And watch how much cream cheese you put on the bagel, Fatso.

Bloomberg’s rationale is that we’ve become a nation of lardbutts, and all that extra weight we are carrying around is bad for our health. Statistics now show that two-thirds of adults and one-third of children are overweight or obese. Obesity can cause expensive illnesses, including diabetes and heart disease.

On that point, he’s absolutely right.

So his answer is to ban soft drinks that contain sugar in containers larger than 16 ounces. You can buy as much Diet Coke as you want.

Somebody in New York is going to make a fortune running bootleg Big Gulps across the state line from New Jersey.

I can hear the conversations at the theater concession stands now.

“Gimme one of them supersized Cokes.”

“I’m sorry. I can only sell you that in diet.”

“Oh, come on, man. Here’s an extra buck. Fix me up with the good stuff.”

Look, let’s be completely honest here. The Coca- Cola you drink isn’t going to make you fat. It’s not.

What is going to make you fat is drinking the Coca-Cola and consuming a half a bag of Oreos while sitting on your supersized posterior watching “American Idol.”

In other words, get up off the sofa and get outside. Run around the block. Walk the dog. Take up tennis. Do anything that gets your heart rate up and your muscles working.

When I was kid growing up in Southwest Georgia, about the only things we had to drink in our refrigerator were milk, Coca-Cola and sweet tea. No one really ever drank water unless you were outside, it was hot and there was a water hose nearby.

Nearly every meal at our house was fried chicken, pork chops, country-fried steak or ham. But I was skinny as a rail. I was so skinny, I had to hold on to a pine tree when it got windy.

I was skinny because we rode our bikes or played football outside all day. I got plenty of exercise.

Today, I could stand to lose a few pounds. And if I’d go for a walk when I’m done writing this, it would be a good start.

On the other hand, I have a friend who runs five miles every morning. Sometimes she runs in the evening, too.

I asked her once if she was obsessed with exercise.

“No,” she said. “I do it so I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want.”

I think she said this to me while she was eating a pint of Haagen Dazs rocky road ice cream.

The mayor’s plan only bans large-sized drinks. It doesn’t prohibit you from buying two — or three — smaller drinks at one time, which means the legislation really does nothing other than give a politician a chance to brag he’s done something about a hotbutton issue.

Frankly, I’m over it all. It’s time we stood up and reminded the politicians that they work for us, not the other way around.

Should we drink smaller drinks and eat smaller portions? Probably so. But it’s not government’s place to force us.

I have a mother who did a fine job of raising me. I no longer need someone to tell me what to do, especially not a politician.

Eat as healthy as you want. Eat a mountain of tofu and bean sprouts, for all I care. I won’t bother you.

But I expect the same from you when I want a Coke.

Mitch Clarke is executive editor of The Times in Gainesville, Ga. He can be reached at mclarke@gainesvilletimes.com.

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