Analysis: If the Public Was Kept in the Dark, Whose Fault Is That?

Big Sugary Drink BanLongtime Davis Enterprise columnist Bob Dunning has been waging a one-man battle against the city’s recently enacted sugary beverage ordinance. While most of the city has moved on to more important matters, Bob Dunning seems to want to rehash the debate.

There is a lot of hyperbolic rhetoric here that need to be parsed.

Mr. Dunning writes about the city council members: “[O]nce elected, these five took it upon themselves to come to the aid of overburdened parents who are incapable of proper parenting when dining with their children in some of Davis’ finest eating establishments.”

Mr. Dunning clearly does not understand this issue. We face a public health crisis locally and nationally with regard to childhood obesity and diabetes.

In their staff report, city staff cites the childhood obesity epidemic, where in Davis, roughly one-quarter of all children in grades 5, 7 and 9 are overweight or obese. Moreover, a study found that in 2012, more than half of all Davis 5th, 7th, and 9th graders failed to meet the CA Fitness Standards.

Staff writes, “Sugary beverages play a central and unique role in the obesity epidemic. Studies have found a significant link between sugary drink consumption and weight gain in children. Soda and sugary beverages are the single largest source of calories in children’s diets, and provide nearly half of kids’ added sugar intake.”

Mr. Dunning is also not considering that fact that nearly a quarter of the children in this town are low-income, Title I kids. We cannot assume that parents are well-educated on nutrition – given the level of the epidemic, we can’t assume any parent is well-educated.

But the tie between low-income, education level, and obesity and diabetes is alarming. For many low-income families, fast food is a staple.

Dr. Harold Goldstein is executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, based in Davis.

“I want to applaud this council for considering this ordinance,” Dr. Goldstein stated. “We are in the midst of a skyrocketing diabetes epidemic. Diabetes rates in the United States have quintupled five-fold in the last fifty years.”

One-quarter of teenagers have either diabetes or pre-diabetes, the doctor told the council. One-third of all kids and half of kids of color will have diabetes at some time in their lives.

“It is true there are a lot of contributing factors to both the childhood obesity and the diabetes epidemic,” he said. “But without question, sugary beverages are the leading contributor. One twenty ounce soda has 16 teaspoons of sugar. Imagine eating 16 teaspoons of sugar.”

These beverages “deliver their sugar in liquid form. These beverages are nothing other than a sugar delivery device. Because it’s delivered in liquid form, it’s absorbed into the body in as little as 30 minutes. That sugar then, over time, overwhelms the pancreas, wears out the pancreas and is converted in the liver into fat. Now we have kids who have fatty liver disease as if they’re alcoholics. They’re not drinking alcohol, they’re drinking sugar and the sugar gets converted into fat in the liver.”

He said, “There is no reason that kids should be given a sugary beverage when they go to a restaurant – without their parents asking for it.”

He called this policy as libertarian as it gets, as “parents still get to have a complete choice. But the default will be the healthy choice.”

That’s really the key point here – no one is having their right to give their children sugar infringed upon, but we need to start sending the message that sugar kills. It’s slow but, as someone who suffers from diabetes, the reality is painful.

Mr. Dunning then curiously writes: “The public, meanwhile, was kept mostly in the dark about this solution in search of a problem, mostly because no one in the general public had been demanding such an ordinance.”

There are often times when I think the public is kept in the dark on issues, either through their own inattention or lack of coverage. But this issue received a lot of coverage, both in the Enterprise and on the Vanguard.

On November 30, the Enterprise ran the front page story, “Mayor wants to reduce childhood obesity with healthy choices.” They followed it up a few days later with an A3 story, “Council starts process for soda ordinance.”

In April, the Enterprise ran a column from Raychel Kubby Adler, “Drink up, kids, but make your choice a healthy one.”

The Vanguard ran numerous articles, some of which received thousands of views and hundreds of comments.

The one thing that seems to be missing, however, is that the Enterprise ran its story on May 27, “Council Oks rule for healthy kids’ drinks.” The next day, Bob Dunning ran his very first column on the subject, “Who needs parents when we have the city council?”

So, the media covered the story fairly heavily in the six months from the time the idea was first introduced in November of 2014 until it was unanimously passed by council in May. If anyone is to blame for the public being in the dark on the issue, it’s the columnist who chose not to write on the issue until after council passed it, despite numerous opportunities to do so previously.

So why did so few people write the council to complain about this issue, even as they filled the email boxes on things like the CFD, innovation parks, and other critical matters? Probably because the issue doesn’t affect them.

If people want to order soft drinks for their kids they have every right to. The only thing this changes is that when you order your Happy Meal, McDonald’s offers you milk or juice rather than soda – oh wait, they already did that.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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38 Comments

  1. zaqzaq

    The ordinance is a hollow do nothing new law that will have zero impact on children’s health.  All the politicians can pat themselves on their backs for looking good doing nothing.  It was a complete waste of the city staff’s time which could have been spent on things that really impact this community.  It only impacted 18 locations in this town according to Dunning and some already offer milk as a default beverage as David points out in this article.  The money spent on paper, stamps and staff time would have been better spent filling one of many potholes in a road in Davis.

    If you want to make a difference on this issue you need the school district to provide healthy meals, eliminate the sale of soda in vending machines and prohibit the purchase of soda by minors.  Let their parents purchase it for them.  You also need an actual program to educate parents on the adverse health impact of soda consumption, not only for the sugar but also for caffeine.

  2. keithvb

    I think we need to question the mental competency of the City Council.

    Why would they waste their time on this drivel?

    I guess without “real” priorities they need something to do…

  3. Mark West

    “Mr. Dunning clearly does not understand this issue. We face a public health crisis locally and nationally with regard to childhood obesity and diabetes.”

     

    Bob is not the one who doesn’t understand the issue.  The ordinance will have zero impact on the problem so I suggest that those pushing it are the ones who do not understand.

    We should only spend time (and money) on real solutions, not empty ones.

  4. Napoleon Pig IV

    This ordinance was just a test by local politicians to determine how absurd and irrelevant their actions could be without generating ridicule or opposition. I suspect they’re getting a good laugh at the new mandate for triviality and wheel-spinning they’ve received from the sheep despite the best efforts of Bob Dunning to point out the lack of garments on the over-weight emperor. Oink!

  5. TrueBlueDevil

    Dunning gets it. The city council could be coming to grips with unfunded roads, leaky public pools, unfunded pension obligations, a budget disaster, or a CIO ousted for petty reasons, but they choose distractions.

  6. ryankelly

    The only thing I appreciate about the ordinance is that there is no extra charge for substituting milk, which is how it is done in many places.

  7. Eskimo Pie

    Putting the issue itself aside for one moment, it’s a silly argument to say the Council “wasted its time” on an issue or “should be focused on more important things”. The two are not mutually exclusive and it’s not as if a magical solution to our infrastructure issues would have appeared had they just not burdened themselves with other things. The road problems are being addressed in the way and at the rate they are, not for lack of “focus” or time spent, but for a lack of funds. The Council, like any decision-making body, can balance multiple priorities at once, and the “important” stuff will move forward at the same pace despite other issues moving along concurrently. If you don’t like the ordinance, fine, but don’t pretend the roads are full of holes because of it.

        1. Mark West

          “I suspect the answer is that five councilmembers disagreed with your assessment of the ordinance.”

           

          Politician’s love to crow about ‘do nothing’ actions since they get to claim to be ‘helping’ without ever having to bother with the messy action of actually doing something. The big problem with ordinances like this is that those who recognize the ‘do nothing’ aspect will lose respect for those doing the crowing, with the result being a reduction in trust for the entire endeavor.  This City is famous for do nothing actions (Toad Tunnels anyone?).  Care to ponder why trust is such a big issue with our City’s governance?

          I guess we could pass an ordinance against crowing – oops, already have that – or we can simply speak up and tell the CC members to do something worthy of respect (beyond walking and chewing gum at the same time of course).

        2. Robb Davis

          Walking, chewing, typing and… crowing…

          But what HAVE we done worthy of respect?  Do any of these count?  Or is all this more “toad tunnel” stuff?

          1. Passed water rates that (well before it was required) encouraged conservation.  (BTW, latest City data from May shows we reduced consumption compared to 2013 by 31%).

          2. Signed a much improved contract with DWR that incentivizes diversion while holding the line on costs.

          3. Approved a study of ALL city-owned infrastructure to create the basis for planning and budgeting for replacement costs.

          4. Passed a resolution to position the Water Resources Association of Yolo County to work with the Farm Bureau to establish a groundwater management agency and develop a groundwater management plan.

          5. Passed an ordinance to streamline the construction of ADUs and another to require rooftop solar on new SFR construction.

          6. Moved critical street infrastructure projects forward including Covell Corridor, Mace Blvd and L Street.

          7. Finalized an energy savings street light retrofit (for which we received very low interest financing)

          8. Established clear goals/objectives/tasks to guide staff work and narrow focus

          9. Established a comprehensive review process for community choice energy (an approach that should save ratepayers money and help drive local economic development)

          10. Held workshops on the innovation parks and provided staff with direction on guiding principles and development agreement negotiation processes/approaches.

          11. Established a fee study to examine and update all existing city fees (recommendations on future fees will come to the CC in the fall).

          12. Authorized changes to visitor attraction BID and downtown BID to enhance Davis as a destination.

          13. Approved contract for WDWP pipeline construction

          14. Approved update to General Plan housing element to provide for less frequent need for revision

          15. Passed ordinance (not simply a resolution) to promote water conservation.

          16. Broke ground on wastewater treatment plant that will put us into compliance with federal regulations and avoid fines.

        3. Davis Progressive

          it’s really not that impressive a list.  a lot of it is not heavy lifting.  some are not final pieces to the puzzle.

          put it this way, how many would have listed any of those items in their top ten to do list?

      1. Robb Davis

        I know, not very impressive.  But, quite frankly, this is the week to week, month to month, mostly boring, not too exciting stuff of local government.  People posting here want leadership from the CC but I wonder if they even know what they are asking for.  All I can say is this is the stuff we work on all the time and it takes time, meetings, reading and discussion.

        (Of course the list does not get to the hard, cold reality of Davis politics which is that just about every development of any size requires a Council vote.  That vote is preceded by meetings with developers, opponents and staff.  The end result is a vote but the time taken to prepare for that vote is huge.)

        So, DP, I guess what I want to know is… what would really represent good work, impressive work, meaningful work?  Tell me and then maybe I can tell you whether I think we are doing it.  Not everything shows up in a vote.  Not every vote reveals the work to get to a vote.  Not all the preparation ever get discussed (like how many meetings do you think it takes to discuss and walk through assumptions that go into the budget projections?  How many hours?  Any guesses?).

        Am I saying there is no wasted time and effort?  No.  Am I saying this is a well oiled, fully functional machine?  No.  Am I saying that I think this is how things get done in most cities, in most places?  Yes, I guess I am.  Not too sexy.  Not too newsworthy.  But the trash is picked up, crime is investigated, water flows from taps, programs for kids are held, things get fixed (though not nearly as quickly as they should), and sewage does not back up in our streets.

        We wrestle with how to pay for it all; how to have a better relationship with the university; how to set priorities; how to respond to the dozens of emails demanding action on this or that matter; how to adopt or discard recommendations coming from groups and commissions; how to implement already-approved plans; how to put the city on a sustainable, stable, resilient path…

        And all THAT is what I assume governing is all about.  But maybe I have this whole thing wrong.  I am sure you will enlighten me if I do, since your expertise on all matters of local governance is pretty profound.

        So, yeah, I get it, the list is not too impressive–we didn’t really “do” any heavy lifting; some of it is not even “done.”  Makes me wonder what I spent the past year doing.

        1. Tia Will

          Robb

          Makes me wonder what I spent the past year doing.”

          I think that you summed it up nicely. I would be willing to bet that when you were not posting, walking and chewing gum at the same time, that you were very busy working on pointless proposals and pandering to special groups to forward your ( very all hidden by the way) secret political agenda to advance your political career !  Go on…..tell me I’m wrong !

        2. Davis Progressive

          robb davis: i am not one who believes that the issue of sugary beverages, childhood diabetes, and obesity should be ignored by the council.

          but here are things i’m interested in:

          addressing the needs of “the other davis” in a systematic way by working with city and county

          creating a sustainable budget

          funding our infrastructure needs

          creating a sustinable economic development program

          economic sustainability

          netzero energy goals and carbon foot reduction

          work with the region on a sustainable alternative transportation system

          work with the university to provide housin needs of students

        3. Matt Williams

          Well said Robb. I’ve always felt that each individual looks at a list of accomplishments through the lens of What’s In It For Me (WIFM), and as a result one person’s heavy lifting is a different person’s ho-hum. I also believe that your parenthetical second paragraph illuminates one of the problems that this current Council faces … it is more reactive than proactive.

          (Of course the list does not get to the hard, cold reality of Davis politics which is that just about every development of any size requires a Council vote. That vote is preceded by meetings with developers, opponents and staff. The end result is a vote but the time taken to prepare for that vote is huge.)

          One of the key reasons for that reactivity is that Action 3 of Goal LU 1 of the General Plan states: “Create and maintain an effective growth management system designed to keep the population of the City below 64,000 and the number of single-family dwellings below 15,500 in 2010, which corresponds to a sustained 1.81 percent annually- compounded
          growth rate from January 1, 1988 to January 1, 2010 and a sustained 1.4331 percent annually-compounded growth rate from January 1, 1996 to January 1, 2010 due to “front loading”.

          We passed the 64,000 person population threshold a long time ago, and as such each land use category change application that will add to the City’s population must be handled as a General Plan Amendment. That increases the administrative burden on both Staff and the Council. It also effectively prevents us from pursuing either a proactive or holistic planning approach that looks at synergystically linked parcels of land. We are locked into pursuing (processing) only those “real” applications that are handed to Staff in a formally submitted planning application (or pre-application).

          With the above said, I would argue that it is time to officially look at the existing General Plan … assessing its strengths and weaknesses as the first step in committing to a process that makes that plan into a living, functional document that helps Staff and Council effectively govern the City rather than hamstringing them.

        4. Matt Williams

          Robb, in stepping through the General Plan document ( see http://community-development.cityofdavis.org/city-of-davis-general-plan-december-2007 ) in order to research my above comment, I ran into the following wording in the Redevelopment Agency section on page 18, City / County Pass Through Agreement. On November 18, 1987, the City of Davis and the County of Yolo executed a Pass Through Agreement, in response to the city’s redevelopment plan. The Agreement ensures that the city will “pass through” specified property tax increments to the county. The “pass through” of the tax increments is intended to alleviate any financial burdens or detriments to the county which will have to increase the amount of services it provides to future development in the redevelopment plan area. The “pass through” of the tax increments to the county is conditioned upon the county not approving “urban development” within the city’s planning area without city approval, thereby avoiding “leap frog” growth or growth which is difficult to service.

          One of the items I personally would like to Council actively and transparently deal with is what the future of the City / County Pass Through Agreement is now that the Redevelopment Agency is nearing its end as it steps through the “wind down period.”

        5. Robb Davis

          DP:

          addressing the needs of “the other davis” in a systematic way by working with city and county
          creating a sustainable budget
          funding our infrastructure needs
          creating a sustinable economic development program
          economic sustainability
          netzero energy goals and carbon foot reduction
          work with the region on a sustainable alternative transportation system
          work with the university to provide housin needs of students

          Thanks for the list.  I think it is clear that ALL of these items require commitment and a series of activities over a long period.  I am interested in them as well and could, with ample time, run through ways that we have been working on nearly all of them in a systematic way.  For example, two weeks ago the Social Services Commission had its first discussion about developing a comprehensive social services strategy for the City.  We have not done this before but it deal with your first point.  I laid out in another posting today what we are doing to assess infrastructure needs and on July 7 we begin discussions of potential revenue measures.  Today the Innovation Center subcommittee met with staff to discuss progress on the MRIC and Nishi projects and plan for when and how best to process data coming from the economic studies of the two.  We also discussed outreach actions, meetings with Commissions and the steadily advancing projects.  Two weeks ago, a small group of staff met for a second time with UCD reps to discuss their upcoming LRDP process, housing needs and how to work together to provide more housing. Over the past year the FBC (per CC direction) has worked on little besides developing processes for budget tracking, transparency, projections… All to assure we can better assess budgetary challenges and plan for more sustainable budgets.  Two weeks ago a large group of City and County stakeholders met to identify service gaps related to services for homeless individuals and develop plans to fill the gaps.
          And I could add more detail to these and add others.
          My point here is that NONE of these issues is on the verge of being solved in some final way.  However, it is absolutely clear to me that we are tackling most of the issues on your list.  We are working on them from multiple angles, with the support of staff and key City commissions, and in collaboration (as appropriate) with the County.

  8. Robb Davis

    So, I am writing this while walking down the street and chewing gum.  That’s right, I am capable of doing multiple things at once and some take very little effort at all (like gum chewing).  I would argue the City Council is the same way.  We ARE capable of multi-tasking.  Some things take little time and effort.

    The time staff and Council spent on this issue was very limited.  Our friends at First Five Yolo did much of the background and supported the writing of the ordinance language.

    Commenters are correct that the impact of this one thing is limited.  However, taking this action is merely part of a larger statement that we and other communities are making to raise our voice that liquid-delivered sugar products are a threat to our public health.  There are no magic bullets in public health interventions.  Reducing obesity and Type II diabetes will take many efforts over a long period.  The good news for Davis is that staff and the City Council spend much more time on street design and funding issues (yes, we are putting some, though not enough funds into streets) that create safer streets so that people can walk and bike to destinations–thereby improving their health.  We also subsidize various recreational programs that keep people of all ages active.  A very large part of our annual budget (general fund) is in recreations and parks programs. So, we are doing exactly what some posters here are asking for: putting resources (money and time) into doing things that will have a big impact on health.

    Finally, just to put everyone at ease, here is a rough estimate of where I have spent my roughly 30 hours per week on City issues over the past year.  I think you will see where a typical Council member’s priorities lie:

    Budget, City Finance, Pensions, Compensation issues, maintenance backlogs and replacement issues, etc.: 30% (much of this is coming up to speed and should reduce over time)

    Social issues (housing, homelessness, addiction, affordable housing, etc.): 15%

    Economic Development (innovation centers, university relationships, community outreach): 15%

    Utilities (water, sewer, solid waste, rates, conservation, etc.): 10%

    Community choice energy: 5%

    Street and transportation issues: 5%

    City/County issues (LAFCo, homelessness, groundwater management and other water issues) 5%

    Other (correspondence with citizens, legislative issues, police–including UCD, other university relationship issues, meeting with students and other citizens, speaking, ceremonial, CC meetings, etc.): 15%

     

    1. Michelle Millet

      So, I am writing this while walking down the street and chewing gum. 

      Please tell me you aren’t typing while crossing intersections. That is very dangerous. You can get hit by a bike that way.

    2. Frankly

      I think this list of weighted priorities is reasonable if maybe not strong enough on budget and economic development, but I think the social issues (also possibly conveniently having adopted environmental issues as social issues) get much more attention by the CC than 15%.  At least with respect to the attention-grabbing policy work, it seems more like 35-40%.  And that is why there is so much criticism.

  9. Davis Progressive

    a big objections that i have is the idea that somehow this issue isn’t important.  these are kids, there is a health epidemic.  and we need to do something.

    does this solve the problem?  of course not.  did it start conversation?  i hope so.

    people missed a key part of the vanguard’s complaint about the dunning piece – he claimed that people were kept in the dark.  it was pointed out that the enterprise actually ran a front page article on the issue six months before it was passed but dunning didn’t write anything prior to its passage.  why isn’t dunning accepting blame here if he’s unhappy?

  10. tribeUSA

    Seems to me Mr. Dunning is just having fun with this very Davis issue.

    I unabashedly support the non-sugary default drink, the toad tunnel, the dark sky ordinance, and decibel limits on snoring! And encourage further such ordinances (lets ban leafblowers next, with input from UCD atmospheric sciences & environmental health programs!)

  11. Tia Will

    What amazes me about this conversation is the amount of derision, contempt, vitriol and prejudgement with regard to a relatively modest proposal that has the possibility for helping to move forward a conversation about more healthful lifestyles and may even benefit some children and their future families directly. Of course it is not a panacea. But no one who is calling this a “do nothing proposal” really has any idea whether it will have an appreciable effect or not. Why not ?  Because we are the first to try it. These same arguments were made against the many small steps that were ultimately needed in combination to cause the decline in smoking which has saved many, many lives.  So, since it is innocuous, not preventing anyone from buying or consuming anything that they might want only subject to parental approval, why all the fuss ?

    First let’s consider what the proposal won’t do. It won’t prevent Bob Dunning from providing his children with as many sodas or other sweetened beverages as he will allow them to have. It does not abridge any inalienable constitutional rights. If does not unduly burden any merchants since it doesn’t prevent any server from enquiring whether or not the parent would prefer a soda to the default beverage nor prevent the parent from requesting said non food beverage for their child.

    What might it do that would be constructive ?  It might be a platform for a parent- child conversation. Child asks, Mom why can’t I have the soda that used to come with my meal ? Mother correctly answers because those drinks are not good for your health. I have decided that we are going to only have those drinks very rarely for a special treat because water is much, much better for you. This conversation might even lead to the mother being more thoughtful about what to serve at home, or to start thinking about eating fast food less since that although is not as healthful. If even one child does not end up with Type II diabetes even in part because of this measure, it will have more than paid for itself over that individuals lifetime.

    This proposal is not intended to be a panacea. It should most appropriately be seen as part of an integrated effort including getting better nutrition into our classrooms, our homes, and yes, our restaurants. Anyone who has ever been involved in public health is well aware that public  health, like individual health, is multifactorial and needs to be addressed on many fronts, not with any one single sweeping measure. And Robb Davis has as much experience with public health in the field as almost anyone I know. It is his area of expertise. If Robb thinks this is a sound, albeit very small step in the right direction, I would follow him even if I had not decided in favor of it myself as a clinician.

  12. Frankly

    What might it do that would be constructive ?  It might be a platform for a parent- child conversation. Child asks, Mom why can’t I have the soda that used to come with my meal ? Mother correctly answers because those drinks are not good for your health.

    Why do you think this ordinance is required for this converstation to take place?  It seems to me that you think people are too stupid to know that feeding soda to their kids is unhealthy.

    1. Tia Will

      Ah Frankly,

      You never fail to disappoint. Take a statement I never made or implied and use it to generalize in ways I never would while accusing me of holding your ridiculous view.

       

      1. Frankly

        I very much like your posts because they tend to lay bare the different ways we would approach a problem.  I think as a liberal, it is typical to think in terms of top-down rules to improve society.  My experience and conservative bent has me thinking we need the opostite.  Fewer top-down rules to live by and more social norms expecting good choices and good behavior… and more agreement that people need to take responsibility for their own bad choices.

        I had family visiting from the Midwest.  They are all obese.  14 year old would only eat chicken wings and drink Doctor Pepper.  He said he was thirsty and his mom gave him water and he complained that it tasted bad and he wanted a Doctor Pepper and she made her husband stop to get him a Doctor Pepper.

        One of the evenings we were talking about all of our kids and I said, my oldest son smokes cigarettes and is trying to stop, but if he keeps smoking he will likely die young just like your obese son who has terrible and unhealthy eating habits.

        She got up and went to bed early pissed at me.  But I am sure that I made her think and it might cause her to work on improving their family eating habits. Or she will stay pissed at me because I hurt her feelings saying what needed to be said.

        And there you have the crux of the problem.  Liberals are generally people that can’t get over hurt feelings and so they circumvent honest assessment and instead implement global rules to live by that avoid difficult direct confrontation.  The problem is that this erodes freedoms for everyone.

        1. Michelle Millet

          That women is well aware that her child is obsese. You pointing it out just embarrassed and shamed her, this does not result in behavior change, and it shut down an constructive diologe that could have taken place between the to of you.

          1. David Greenwald

            I agree with Michelle. There is a reason a professional therapist would never take that approach – you’ve damaged trust and shut down any possibility for future communications on the subject.

  13. Tia Will

    Frankly

    What a great illustration of what I was trying to convey about opening a useful conversation in a non confrontational way. Which do you honestly think is more likely to move behavior in a productive direction, a conversation in which a child is gently taught about the benefits of water over soda, even if they have been allowed to have soda before, or as Michelle pointed out, a shaming conversation ?  While enquiring of patient’s what steps they believe that they are ready to take to improve their health so that I can find appropriate programs to help them, I have had many patient’s relate shaming conversations with other providers in the following way  “I know I am fat but does he also think I am stupid ?” If  losing weight were easy, I would have done it years ago !!!!”

     I think as a liberal, it is typical to think in terms of top-down rules to improve society.  My experience and conservative bent has me thinking we need the opposite”

    I think that you believe that I am a liberal.  I disagree with you although in our narrow characterizations and stereotypical thinking I suppose that is the box most would put me in. I will tell you why I do not believe that I am a “liberal” in the sense that you mean it. I 100% believe in personal responsibility. I think that I believe in it more firmly than you do since I believe that those of us who have been highly successful have the added obligation to help others become successful.  However, I do not believe that a child is responsible for the bad decisions of his parents. If a person becomes obese because of their parents choices for them, that is not the fault of the child who naturally grows to accept how they are raised as the norm. Perhaps my career as an obstetrician has led to me have a heightened awareness of how generational choices affect those who are not even yet conceived or born. A grandmother’s food and exercise choices will affect her chances of having gestational diabetes. This condition will affect the chances that her daughter will develop Type II diabetes, which will in turn put her own children at increased risk. I know that you like to think that every individual is 100% responsible for their own decisions. But this belief flies in the face of the biology of sugar metabolism which is a complex, cross generational medical problem and not simply a matter of choosing to eat or drink too much of the wrong thing.

     Where we can and should be making preventative decisions that will change people’s lives for the better is when they cannot make those decisions for themselves. For me this is the height of promoting individual best behaviors. If children learn healthy behaviors and we prevent diseases from developing in the first place they will be much more likely to continue those good choices on their own into adulthood thus improving the health of their own children. If everyone’s parents and grandparents had made all of the right decisions as individuals, we would not have the obesity epidemic ( in the truest sense of the word) that we see today. However, we do because they did not. So shall we just throw up our hands and say their is nothing we can do because someone has their feelings hurt because they are told that they can no longer have a soda placed into their child’s hands without their express permission ?  Or could we maybe consider that this very small step might painlessly lead fewer children to feel that the normal drink to have with dinner is a Dr. Pepper before they develop the habit ? There is a balance that we could could between my preference for no sodas marketed at all, ever, which would be the heavy handed approach, and your preference for no one in a public position every suggesting anything that infringes upon anyone’s right to do whatever they want at any time as long as you personally do not feel threatened by it. It is that middle ground that we should be seeking since we have both chosen to live in society instead of in rural isolation.

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