Mayor Bloomberg is taking aggressive steps to ban super-sized sodas with more than 16 ounces of sugar per serving. Ostensibly, the reason is the connection between sugar and obesity. Although some skinny people drink large amounts of sugary soda without getting fat, the real danger is in the consumption of sugar in excess of the recommended RDA of 40 grams per day. High levels of sugar drive up blood sugar and place an unnecessary burden on internal organs such as the pancreas and liver.
The problem is acute; the Mayo Clinic is developing an artificial pancreas which will facilitate the treatment of Type 1 diabetes mellitus. The device will free diabetics from the requirement of taking frequent doses of insulin and make diabetes management easier.
High sugar intake can also increase the risk for pancreatic cancer, according to studies by the University of Minnesota. The liver creates bile for fat regulation and regulates blood clotting and blood sugar. A damaged liver can lose control over regulating glycogen, precipitating an increase in blood sugar. This is the science supporting Mayor Bloomberg’s call to ban sugary drinks over 16 ounces. The causal connection between obesity and sugar is less clear.
Once over large sugary drinks are banned, what are the alternatives for parents and children? The alternatives are very good. By consuming more water, seltzer, herbal tea and even diet soda in moderation, children can stay within the dietary sugar limits, although physicians have some reservations about consuming too much diet soda.
In addition to a ban, Mayor Bloomberg has an excellent alternative to fight unhealthy sugar consumption: imposing an excess consumption tax on the sugary sodas. The Mayor can simply levy a half dollar tax on a 32 ounce soda priced at $1.50 to discourage excess consumption.
Mayor Bloomberg’s actions to ban supersized sodas, if successful, can help to reduce childhood diabetes and other chronic conditions which impact the pancreas and liver. Both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes are dreadful conditions, and often, people go for years without a firm diagnosis, until an endocrinologist or other medical specialist does more sophisticated tests.
The initial symptoms of diabetes can be very uncomfortable. These symptoms include frequent urination, extreme itchiness, extreme redness in the extremities and a sensation of pins and needles. Childhood diabetes can have a significant impact on the cost of Medicaid and even private health care delivery plans. Clearly, Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to reduce sugar intake should be applauded by physicians, parents, teachers, school administrators, athletic directors and students.