A proposed ban on large-sized sugary drinks in New York City doesn't go down well with Hernando County residents, who say government needs to mind its own business.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made waves this month when he proposed banning the sale of any soda or other sugary drink larger than 16 ounces.
That would affect restaurants, theaters, convenience stores and other retail outlets. Diet sodas or drinks with at least 70 percent juice, or half milk or milk substitute would be exempt.
Bloomberg said the first-ever such ban is needed to combat the growing obesity problem in his city.
Graham Mott of Brooksville said he believes government has more things to worry about than the size of a fountain drink.
"It's intrusive," said Mott, who occasionally stops in the convenience store for a 44-ounce Coke or Mountain Dew. "It's political correctness gone amok."
Clarence Clark of Brooksville said the economy prohibits many people from buying more healthy fare such as all-natural fruit smoothies, which can cost up to $1 more than a soda.
"Government has way too much on its plate than dealing with what kind of soda I can or can't have," Clark said.
Today it's a crackdown on big-sized drinks. What's next? He asked. French fries?
Clark said there should be more concern about the chemicals in food and what that could be doing to a person's health.
Sue Shroyer of Brooksville said she doesn't even drink soda but thinks Mayor Bloomberg's proposal is silly.
"I think it's ridiculous," she said.
People will skirt the law simply by buying two of the smaller, 16-ounce drinks, she said.
"If you want to get fat, it's your right," Shroyer said.
In announcing the proposal, Bloomberg's office said the single largest driver of rising obesity rates is sugary drinks, which have grown in size over the years. The mayor's office claimed that the size of a large drink at fast food chains has doubled to 64 ounces. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (http://www.cspinet.org/) said sugary soft drinks are "nutritionally worthless products" in applauding the proposal.
Soft drinks -- small and large -- are big sellers at convenience stores and often compete for the customer dollar.
RaceTrac recently brought back its Sodapalooza promotion with drinks selling for 59 cents, including the 32-ounce fountain drink.
7-Eleven is home to three different size of fountain drinks: the traditional 32-ounce Big Gulp, 44-ounce Super Big Gulp and even the 64-ounce Double Gulp.
Circle K now is pitching its 69-cent Thirst Buster, where customers can buy any size drink all day, including the 44-ouncer -- with crushed or cubed ice.
Maggie Giunta, registered dietician at Brooksville Regional Hospital, said Bloomberg may have good intentions by trying to combat obesity.
But he is missing the bigger picture, she said, by failing to take into consideration a person's entire dietary and fitness picture.
Giunta worries that by targeting one offender, sugary drinks, the public will not take seriously cutting back on other junk food.
"He's just pinpointing one thing and I think it sends the wrong message because it simplifies the obesity crisis," she said. "It's more than just one food item."
U.S. Rep. Richard Nugent called the mayor's proposal another example of government intrusion and is against such a law.
"I believe in personal responsibility," said Nugent, who added he stopped drinking soda because he is trying to lose weight.
Nugent said people should have the right to buy what they want, even if it isn't good for them. And how far, he asked, does this go: limiting a coffee drinker to two packs of sugar?
"Who's going to enforce this, the New York cops?" he asked.
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