A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, but 32-oz sodas make you fat

In the spring of this year, the Board of Health in New York City proposed to do something that no other city in the U.S. has attempted to do before: restrict portion sizes. And on Sept. 13, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city’s Board of Health effectively “banned”:http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/docs-nyc-ban-big-sugary-drinks-17221772#.UFtEBEI1bFI food services in the city from selling sugary beverages in containers larger than 16 ounces.

Many opponents of these restrictions are up in arms over their freedom to consume what and how much they want.

But it may not be apparent that this recent restriction is not eliminating the sale of sugary beverages — it’s just making them smaller. If you want a 32-ounce Coke, you can have it. Just buy two 16-ounce cups.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health “released a report”:http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0912/81357.html?hp=r6 Tuesday predicting that by 2030, if current obesity rates continue, every state could have an obesity rate above 44 percent.

I’m sure you’ve heard these types of reports all your life. And by now you probably ignore them, simply because it’s common knowledge that Americans tend to be overweight. It has become a social norm to have a tire around your waist and waddle by the time you’re 40.

With these commonalities, it seems unlikely that U.S. citizens are going to make a broad-reaching move anytime soon to commit to a healthy lifestyle.

And if this trend continues, in 20 years, health care costs for obesity-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and hypertension, will have increased from $48 billion to $66 billion in the U.S.

It seems as if the mayor of New York City is one of the few who believe that more drastic action needs to be taken after many government and private fitness and health programs have not had as large an impact as one would hope.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the average restaurant meal is “four times larger”:http://shine.yahoo.com/healthy-living/cdc-infographic-shows-super-sized-portions-normal-185000601.html than it was in the 1950s.

We need to relearn portion sizes and eliminate the culture of obesity in the U.S. After all, personal health affects many other things; being healthy would influence people around you who see that you are eating less food than they are.

It would cut back on health care costs. Eventually, it would relinquish the U.S. as the title-holder for the world’s most obese country. New York City’s sugary beverage restriction is the first of many restrictions that should come.

Although not the only one that could be implemented in addition to the beverage restriction, restaurants should only serve entrees with one or two servings of food.

Restrictions like these are not an infringement on our personal freedoms.

If McDonald’s were to have a scale by the cash register and deny anyone over 300 pounds a Big Mac, then people would have a cause for protest.

But simply decreasing portion sizes still allows us to consume anything we want. Sure, it may take awhile to get used to smaller portions.

But don’t you think it’d be refreshing to not feel like you have a soccer ball in your stomach as you struggle out of The Cheesecake Factory? Wouldn’t it be nice to feel full but not sick after your final bite of fettuccine Alfredo?

Policy makers and government officials across the nation should follow in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s footsteps. We are a republic and not a direct democracy for a reason: Sometimes, the people do not know what is best for them. Let’s rely on our elected officials to commit to a healthier nation by restricting portion sizes.

_Kirsten is a sophomore in Media. She can be reached at [email protected]_