Words: Amy Myers
Coke or Pepsi?
Soon this question will not be relevant on county-owned property due to the soda ban signed by Howard County executive, Ken Ulman. This means that at locations like Centennial Park or the Miller Branch Library, a water vender will replace the soda machine’s spot next to the sodium-and-fat-filled snack machine. While the motive may be to create a healthier Howard County, the efforts may seem slightly frivolous.
With the ban based solely on sugary drinks, the county seems to pick out soda as the culprit to poor nutritional habits. Instead, according to myfitnesspal.com, a 12 ounce Coke bottle with 140 calories and 39 grams of sugar can be traded for a Hostess Honey Bun with 410 calories and 28 grams of sugar. The total fat of a Honey Bun? 22 grams. These delectable treats are commonly found in vending machines, just like the sugary drinks being banned.
With these statistics, it is plain to the eye that sodas are being blamed for much more than a 12 ounce bottle can hold accountable for. Does that mean we should rid the county of the snack machines as well?
Sure, if the county is willing to replace Cheetos with carrots in vending machines.
The problem is that we are concerned more about the unhealthy snacks being provided, rather than the mental attitude that should be changed. Focusing on hiding the cookie jar from the public only helps until they find a different treat to satisfy their sweet-tooth. Instead, gym memberships could be endorsed by lowering prices, encouraging free seminars, and offering a vending machine with healthier choices available. Most importantly, the county needs to let the people choose their own dietary decisions.
It is not the job of the county to smack the back of our hands with a ruler each time we reach for a soda. It is fair to enlighten us with an alternate route that would lead us to a more wholesome lifestyle, but our rights are threatened when they limit even small choices like availability of soda machines. With a restriction like the soda ban, we limit the ability of people to choose healthy lifestyles for themselves. After all, what would you choose? Coke, Pepsi, or Dasani?