Wodraska: Forget food bans, take responsibility for your health

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Last week a trial judge blocked New York City's plan to limit the sale of soda, energy drinks and other high-sugar beverages no more than 16 ounces. The ban would have been implemented in restaurants, movie theaters, stadiums and food carts — but not convenience stores or supermarkets.

Health advocates trying to curb America's obesity problem say the judge's decision is a step backward. They point to statistics that show more than 26 percent of Americans were obese in 2012 and another 36 percent were overweight.

But I am relieved the New York ban failed.

I certainly don't believe sugary drinks are good for one's health and I am a big advocate for portion control to help maintain healthy weight.

However, banning large drinks isn't the way to improve Americans' health, namely because such a ban would not work.

If anyone wants a large drink, they can get one at virtually every corner store — hence the name "convenience" store.

Secondly, limiting a drink size is only treating a symptom of the larger problem — Americans' over-consumption of unhealthy food.

Today, the menu at most fast food restaurants is supersized, which means many Americans consume more than 1,000 calories — half the 2,000 recommended each day — in one meal.

For example, a McDonald's extra value meal with a Big Mac, medium fries and medium Coke has 1,140 calories, as well as 48 grams of fat, 1,280 milligrams of sodium and 67 grams of sugar.

None of that is good for you. It has been over processed, loaded with sugar and flavored with artificial ingredients. I am convinced it takes a body more energy to get that meal through the system than it provides in nutrition.

It is my choice to avoid such food options. The emphasis there is on "choice" — which is where we all come into play.

Rather than banning foods or downsizing them, the government needs to do a better job of educating people about healthy food choices. And Americans must also do a better job of taking responsibility for themselves and their health.

According to a study released in January by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, men in the U.S. have shorter life expectancies than men in 16 developed nations. And American women live 5.2 fewer years than Japanese women, who live the longest.

Don't wait for the government to tell you something is good or bad for you, take your health into your own hands, preferably in the form of a big glass of water — you can even supersize it.

Lya Wodraska is a certified CHEK Practitioner and Holistic Lifestyle Coach. E-mail her at Lwodraska@sltrib.com