It’s no surprise that Mayor Nutter is totally down with New York’s plan to ban mondo-sized sodas. After all, this is the same guy who pushed for Philly’s dead-on-arrival soda tax. But some (CNN, in fact) are criticizing the timing of Mayor Nutter’s speech at this week’s seemingly ridiculous National Soda Summit.
Nutter apparently killed it at the summit and we hear he was given a standing ovation for his speech on this admittedly complicated issue- an issue that tends to irk the inner Libertarian lurking beneath my candied progressive shell.
Gorge on this: Recent figures estimate that there are about 900,000 overweight or obese people living in Philadelphia, and it’s common knowledge that the various health issues afflicting our larger citizens tend to weigh down the rest of us by way of increased health care bills.
At the root of this problem is our maniacal compulsion to consume an ogre’s supply of the sweet stuff. During his speech, Mayor Nutter pointed out that “Philadelphians consume about 60 million gallons of sugar sweetened beverages each year. That’s a half a liter per day per person.” That works out to an extra 1,700 calories per week (give or take a few Ring Dings).
Here’s Mayor Nutter describing his logic behind his deceased soda tax (you can read the entire speech over at Philebrity):
“During my 2010 budget address, I proposed a sugar-sweetened beverage tax of two-cents-per-ounce for the first time. My hope was to impose a tax on retailers based on annual sales volume. We anticipated the tax would generate $77 million annually which we could use to fund a concentrated health initiative geared toward combating obesity.
In 2011, with Philadelphia’s School District facing a significant budget shortfall, I reintroduced the sugar-sweetened beverage tax. At two-cents-per-ounce, this time on distributors, we believed it would close the budget gap… Each time we introduced the sugar-sweetened beverage tax, we faced determined opposition from the beverage industry.”
While you may not entirely agree with the soda tax or New York’s Big Gulp ban, Mayor Nutter’s logic here is sound and his goal of lifting our inflated health care costs and improving public health through targeting obesity is, at the very least, admirable.
Of course, CNN has to come along and shit on everything, pointing out that just one day before his totally awesome speech, Mayor Nutter cut the ribbon at Philly’s new Shake Shack, which offers a peanut butter shake that has around 870 calories, 60 grams of fat and 69 grams of sugar (a 12 oz. can of Coke has around 39 grams of sugar).
As the talking heads of CNN explain, Mayor Nutter is somewhat obligated to attend these public ceremonies, but, in a way, his semi-gaffe serves to illustrate the complicated issue that belies his argument: Fat is everywhere, and as long as that’s the case, fat people will be everywhere.
Photos courtesy of Shake Shack