New York City's big soda ban was recently dumped out by a judge, and I thought that made sense. It seems silly to spend so much money on lawyers (which the city did) for what is essentially a drop in the bucket when it comes to bad health habits. Why pick on big sodas but not a host of other bad-for-you products like fast food, overly-caffeinated drinks, and cigarettes? But that said, it seems like Mississippi, the fattest state in the country, is overdoing its move in the opposite direction. Lawmakers just passed a law to ban limits on size portions and requirements for calorie count menus, which will be required by the new health care law. What on earth could anyone have against calorie count menus?
State Senator Tony Smith, who just happens to be the owner of the Stonewall's BBQ chain (so no personal incentive there, folks), says that limiting portion sizes and requiring calorie counts on menus is all about the government limiting people's personal freedoms. Of course, this has nothing to do with the fact that Smith's BBQ chain ONLY serves 20-ounce sodas.
Calorie counts on menus can actually be extremely helpful. Many people probably don't realize that that innocent-sounding shrimp salad can contain 1,000 calories when you add in the shrimp, creamy dressing, cheese, and bacon bits. A lot of things that sound light and healthy are actually more calorie-laden than desserts!
Sounds like Tony believes in personal freedom -- but only when it comes with ignorance. Why not give people the freedom to SEE that something is 1,000 calories and choose to eat it anyway? Now that's real freedom. No laws are saying you can't EAT the 2,000-calorie triple BBQ burger. Just that you know what you're eating. What's wrong with that? Oh right, Tony might have to pay for menu reprinting.
As for the right to eat whatever you want -- I agree. But then you should have the right to pay for your own hypertension, diabetes, and high blood pressure medications, as well as your own open heart surgery. Not to mention you should have the right to pay for your own round-the-clock nurses when a stroke or heart attack puts you in a wheelchair. And the right not to expect your family, who may have had better eating habits, to take care of you. I've seen it up close and personal. Eat what you want, pay what you want. But don't say, "It's my right to be as unhealthy as I want," and then expect everyone else to pick up the tab for your hospital bills and medications.
Anyway, I'm glad Tony is looking out for his constituents -- and not his business's bottom line or anything like that.
Do you think calorie count menus are helpful?