Monday, January 28, 2013

NAACP and Hispanic Federation fight effort to limit the size of sugary drinks

The NAACP’s New York state branch and the Hispanic Federation are coming against a NYC rule that would limit the size of sugary drinks.  The groups claim the rule will place minority-owned delis and corner stores at a disadvantage compared to grocery stores.

"This sweeping regulation will no doubt burden and disproportionally impact minority-owned businesses at a time when these businesses can least afford it," they state in court papers.  They stress the need for increasing physical education in schools as a solution.

Backers of the rule cite escalating obesity rates as justification for a move that could become the model to shift a ghastly trend.  According to the federal Center for Disease Control, obesity rates are higher than average among blacks and Hispanics. Representative from the NAACP and the Hispanic Federation acknowledge the impact sodas have on minorities, yet contend the impact on minority business owners outweigh the risk of growing obesity among minorities.

One has to question the validity of the fight against the soda rule.  You’d expect hostility from the Pepsi and Coco-Cola Bottling companies, but it’s disheartening that organizations formed to fight for the wholeness of minorities would take sides against the health of those grappling with their weight.

Obesity is rapidly becoming America’s leading public health problem.  The Harvard School of Public Health concludes that obesity is second only to tobacco in causing death among people under the age of 70 in the U.S. Obesity causes or is closely linked with heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol, asthma, sleep apnea, gallstones, kidney stones, infertility, and as many as 11 types of cancers, including leukemia, breast, and colon cancer.

Along with physical health consequences, obesity has social and emotional effects that include discrimination, lower wages, lower quality of life and depression.

The health care cost associated with obesity in the U.S. was estimated to be as high as $190 billion in 2005, and continues to rise. The cost includes money spent directly on medical care and prescription drugs. Add to this the cost of lost days of work, higher employer insurance premiums, and lower wages linked to obesity illness. It impacts recruitment for the armed services, with data showing close to 30 percent of young people in the U.S. being too heavy to qualify for military service.

“The higher rates of obesity among ethnic minority and low-income children, when combined with the adverse health effects of child obesity, are likely to produce continued racial and economic differences in health outcomes,” reports The Future of Children: A Collaboration of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and The Brookings Institute. “Preventing obesity for all children may be a way to reduce socioeconomic and ethnic health disparities.”

Given the research that links health disparities among minorities and ties to economic difference to obesity, why has the NAACP and the Hispanic Federation decided to fight a rule that could aid the people they serve? What can be said about organizations taking on issues that stymie efforts to save lives and minimize economic inequalities?

There’s truth to the claim that this rule will negatively impact minority businesses in NYC.  I’m not saddened by that.  I support minority business, yet lack compassion for those who have a business model that hinders the lives of those they serve.  As the NAACP fights for the rights of business owners, officials in NYC are doing their best to help end obesity among those addicted to those sugary drinks.

Those suffering from this rule need a new business model. Get with the program!  It’s sickening that the NAACP and the Hispanic league have failed to understand the enormity of the epidemic facing those they serve.  They should stop this battle and get on board. 

They can help by educating business owners and citizens about alternatives to sugary drinks.  They should build on what has been started.  The answer is not in court.  The answer is to shift the culture.

This drink is for change.  Raise your water and share with me in a toast to good health.


  1. I agree with you wholeheartedly! Why should national organizations lobby for the few minority business owners who might be affected by the New York City law, when the health of the major population they exist to protect is at risk? It seems counterproductive and raises a question as to who the NAACP and Hispanic Federation actually represent.

    However, do I think the law limiting sugary drink size is a good one? No. We don't need the nanny state to infantilize us by making law about health decisions that we should be making for ourselves. True, we may be adults, and we may not always make adult decisions that are the best for our health. Unfortunately, the overconsumption of sugar products harms us, including our children, and raises the cost of our medical care (or raises the cost to those who are actually paying the bill - taxpayers). That doesn't mean the state should dictate what we drink, however. If they have that power, what will they dictate next?

    The anti-sugary drink law in NYC is another example of government overreaching and the law of unintended consequences.

  2. The NAACP has chosen a terrible stance on this.... this shouldnt even be on the radar of tje NAACP.... simply ridiculous..... with all the injustices they can fight for this is one they choose to fight?????

  3. I would suggest another motivator to reduce consumption -- price. Not by taxes, but by reducing the farm subsidies that keep the price of corn lower than the market would otherwise dictate. Our taxes help pay to keep the cost of surgery drinks lower.