The Spectacle Blog

The Nannies of Boston

By on 9.20.10 | 3:09PM

Boston's city government is thinking of banning the sale of sugared sodas in government buildings. Officials are worried about obesity.

The proposal is, of course, completely unenforceable. Government employees would still be allowed to bring soda from home. Or they could buy them from convenience stores near the office. Given how many other factors contribute to obesity, the soda ban would have no measurable impact on health outcomes.

It's more about the symbolism. After all, it only bans soda. But juices would still be allowed. Coca-Cola contains 3.25 grams of sugar per ounce. But so does apple juice. Chocolate milk actually contains more sugar than either, at 3.625 grams per ounce. But that would still be allowed, too. If frustrated soda drinkers switch to those products, their sugar intake might actually go up!

Governments have every right to set their own workplace policies. But the proposed soda sales ban would be startlingly ineffective. And the next step may well be soda bans in other areas of the city; the nanny state has a well-deserved reputation for mission creep. The crusade against soda is one mission that should end before it begins.

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