Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Chairman Mike

Remember the days when people around the world looked to New York City and the Statue of Liberty as a beacon of freedom? Debate bubbles over sugary drink ban:

While New Yorkers don't seem ready for an outright ban, Chinese tourist Xiao Li was amazed to find that the small Coke she ordered at the AMC Empire 25 theaters in Times Square was a jumbo 946 ml in Chinese eyes.

One of her many observations from traveling in the US, where she marvels at the beautiful landscape and friendly people, is the huge number of overweight men and women.

To Li, the hazards of drinking too much soda and sugary drinks are nothing new, even in China. She said that over the years doctors, especially traditional Chinese medicine doctors, had advised her not to let her underage daughter drink Coke or Pepsi.

However, that has not prevented soft drink giants from expanding into the Chinese market. Just two months ago, Coca-Cola opened its 42nd bottling plant in Yingkou, Liaoning province. It promised to pour $4 billion into China over the next three years.

China is already Coca-Cola's third-largest market after the US and Mexico. The average Chinese now consumes 39 bottles of Coca-Cola products each year, Securities Times reported.

The obesity rate in China has grown rapidly over the past 20 years. Data from the World Health Organization shows that the national rate is below 5 percent, but the rates in some cities are greater than 20 percent. The problem has been attributed by experts largely to the intrusion of fast food, soda and sugary drinks.

It may not be long before Chinese cities are forced to follow Bloomberg's proposal. But whether this will also become a war of personal liberty over solid science might vary from country to country.

It may not be long before cities in the People's Republic of China are forced to take authoritarian measures to limit their citizens freedom emulating the actions undertaken by Mayor Bloomberg in the United States of America. Mull that one over for a while.