The Fun Squad Is Out Again

Have you heard? New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed a ban on large-sized sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, delis, sports arenas, and movie theaters. He wants to limit these beverages to no more than 16 fluid ounces, considered a "small" in many establishments. His reasoning is that by doing so, people will drink less soda, and the skyrocketing rate of obesity will be slowed.

In response, Mark Kalinowski, a business analyst, has said, "Folks who want to buy Big Gulps and Frappuccinos, a lot of those customers, you're only going to be able to take it away from them by prying it out of their cold, dead hands. Maybe the mayor can outlaw all soft drinks and outlaw all fun while he's at it."

There it is again: The equation of sugar with fun. The suggestion that without sugar there can be no fun. Apparently, I haven't had fun for 17 years, not even on the Low Carb Cruise. Heck, I've had vastly less fun than the average person since I read my first nutrition book at the age of 19 and figured out that a lot of my "emotional" problems were really caused by my astonishing sugar consumption.

It's sad to think of all the things I had assumed were fun: Camping. Watching old movies, or new ones, for that matter. Dinner with friends. Dancing. Playing with my dogs. Taking my niece and nephew to the King Tut exhibit, or the big-cat sanctuary. Christmas with my family. Shopping with a childhood pal. Mystery novels. Coming up with new (sugarless) recipes. Sex. Apparently none of these things are fun at all, unless accompanied by sugar.

Oh, the tragedy of it.

For the record, I am against Bloomberg's proposed ban, for a number of reasons. Most importantly, it would keep me from being able to get my beloved super-sized unsweetened iced teas. Okay, I don't spend a lot of time in New York City, more's the pity. (I adore New York.) Still, in a city that size there have to be thousands of people like me, with a prodigious thirst they choose to slake without sugar. I would be vexed if they all had to go thirsty, or carry around two fast food cups instead of one. Yes, yes, it would be legal to sell super-sized unsweetened iced tea, but you know full well that no fast food joint will bother keeping the cups in stock if they can't sell sodas that size.

Secondly, the ban is oddly incomplete. It applies to restaurants, delis, and the like, but not to convenience stores. This means, of course, that Mr. Kalinowski is wrong, since "Big Gulp" is a 7-11 trademark. Too, any beverage with 70% or more fruit juice would be exempt, as if fructose from juice is somehow more benign than fructose from soda. For those who missed it, apple juice has more sugar per ounce than Coca-Cola. Also exempt would be beverages with 50% or more dairy content, because we all know you can't get fat on Frappucinos.

Most importantly, this is not the government's job. Does anyone not know that swilling down a quart of sugar-water at a go might make them fat? Really? You're tired of the way your jeans fit, or rather, don't fit? Stop drinking all that pop. Sheesh.

If Bloomberg can ban super-sized sodas, what's to keep him from going after my bacon, or my rib eyes, or my fried eggs with the runny yolks? Yes, he's right that sugar is awful stuff. But there's been so much outright false nutritional "wisdom" out there, it's all too easy to envision the Nutrition Nannies deciding to take on those "artery-clogging" animal fats next.

I'll make my own nutritional decisions, thank you very much. If other people fail to do so, that's their look-out.

But could we please have a general agreement that it is possible to have fun without incurring diabetes?