Monday, February 15, 2010

Soda - two thumbs down

NewFNP was at the gym yesterday, reading the NYT whilst stationery biking. It's not her favorite workout, but yesterday was a day during which newFNP had to kill two birds with one stone. Thus, NYT and exercise together -- it's like church for newFNP.


The Week in Review section had a below-the-fold article about taxing soda written by Mark Bittman, whose bread recipes tend to be quite good, but whose sugar cookie recipe leaves something to be desired. Clearly, no manufacturer of any product is supportive of a tax on their wares, especially to the tune of 1 cent per ounce and when your product is being blamed as a component (and not an insignificant one) of the obesity epidemic. The industry quotes against such a tax were so transparently douchey, especially the one from one Mr. Derek Yach of PepsiCo who wondered if a tax on sugary food might make things worse by leading to an increased consumption of fat.

It should come as no surprise that newFNP supports such a tax. (She supports taxes on cigarettes as well. If marijuana were to become legalized, she would support a weed tax.) Soda has no nutritional benefits. Okay, okay, it has sugar. But overall, while tasting good, it is a piece of dump nutritionally speaking. When newFNP counsels newly diagnosed diabetics - something she does with alarming frequency - one of the first points she makes is that soda is a no-go, a killer, absolutely a never on the diabetic food pyramid. She believes that using the public health model that targeted cigarette consumption is a reasonable approach. After all, cigarette consumption has decreased significantly over the past few decades.

The article got newFNP thinking that there are other ways to decrease soda consumption. In newFNP's clinic, many, many of her patients receive food stamps. A quick trip to the national food stamp program website states quite clearly that the goal of the program is to help low-income families buy food that supports good health. Clearly, soda should not be on that list. Food stamps are a government program and the government already dictates some exclusions from the food eligibility list. For instance, alcohol is excluded, yet non-alcoholic mixers are not. Cigarettes are excluded. Flaxseed oil is excluded, yet cooking wine is okay. Hell, you can get bows and arrows with food stamps if you are lucky enough to live in Alaska!

If newFNP were asked to update the eligibility list, she would exclude all non-dairy sugary beverages. Good-bye Sunny D! You're not fooling anyone! See you later Orange Crush, you asshole. No one needs you! And no one would be about to do the Dew with food stamps.

But newFNP wouldn't stop there. No Hot Cheetos or any kind of chips. Knowing that food stamps and health are political issues, she might compromise and let Sun Chips or Baked Lays sneak by. No candy. No sugary cereals. No Lunchables. No Hostess, not even the delicious chocolate doughnuts that are so yummy on roadtrips home from snowboarding.

Yes, nutritious foods are expensive. Fresh fruits and veggies go bad if not eaten in a timely fashion. But frozen veggies don't. And if one's cart isn't piled high with a bunch of shit, the food stamps might go a little farther and actually work toward the program's goal of supporting healthy nutrition options in poor families.

And then move on to the schools. No soda dispensers and quit cutting recess and P.E. time. Seriously people - don't just have kids run the mile. Throw a kid a bone and help them to find a physical activity that they like, that they'll do for their entire lives. How about mat pilates P.E.? Hip hop dance P.E. class? Weight training. Not square dancing. Repeat - not square dancing.

Michelle Obama, if you're reading this, newFNP is here to help.

15 comments:

T Rex Mom said...

All you have to do is visit the CDC's website regarding obesity - one in three Americans! And there is only one state, Colorado that has less than a 20% prevalence of obesity.

And yes, it is more expensive to purchase sugary, boxed foods than fresh foods. I really like some of your ideas.

I'm not a fan of more taxes but maybe this would be a way to fund some of the health care costs/burdens as a result of obesity.

Rosemary said...

New Zealand started making some of those changes when our previous Govt was in power- all got changed when the "nanny state" name was flung around- go figure! Rather a nanny state than an obese unwell one. NB:The kids adjusted to it much better than the parents and those that didn't- well they just go to the fish'n'chip shop around the corner from the school at lunch time!

Anonymous said...

If I ate cheetos and drank soda all day, I may need foodstamps, too. I couldn't get my low blood sugar ass off the couch to get a job. And if I had a job, it would likely not pay very much because I would be lazy. Cycle? Yip.

Anonymous said...

NewFNP,

Write more often! Your words keep me going in the long afternoons and evenings I must spend in front of my laptop typing papers as a FNP student! I worked in a community health center as an RN, and that's where I want to head back to after I graduate. It's the kind of work I love. In spite of all you say about being overworked, burned out, tired to the bone after seeing way too many patients in a day, you are an inspiration to this MSN student, and I'll be looking for a job just like yours in about a year and a half!

artsweet said...

Holy fuck, you can buy soda with food stamps? I'm sorry, but this is a govt program intended to promote health - not to underwrite the high fructose corn syrup industry. I hereby nominate you for secty of health.

オテモヤン said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lea said...

I second the secretary of health nomination.

helen said...

I am an ANP student graduating in May and my clinical rotations include 12 hours a week at a homeless clinic and 6-8 at a free clinic for people w/o insurance. New FNP, on one hand, I agree w/ you, that soda and sugary drinks/foods shouldn't be on the food stamp list. In fact, when I was growing up and we were on food stamps (for a short while), my mom actually told me that no sugary things could be bought w/ FS. Smart lady.

However, I don't think that it is fair to legislate food choice to poor people. It seems like adding insult to injury. No one legislates what people who don't need to be on food stamps can and can't buy. I'm all for taxing soda and the like. But just because someone is poor, and needs fiscal support from the state, doesn't mean we can keep limiting their choices, healthy or not healthy.

We are all (mostly) a couple of paychecks and a couple of bad decisions away from poverty/homelessness/etc...

Karen said...

Here Here! I agree! We should be able to legislate the hell out of a federal aid program, though perhaps not create an actual tax for all folks. Food stamps is supposed to help people when they are at a critical low. Soda and the devils own creation, hot cheetos, should not factor in to this equation.

Anonymous said...

FNP,
I enjoy your essays. Could you please sometime write on your experiences with physicians? We read so much about medical societies not agreeing to changes or expansions in the scope of practice of NPs, I would love to hear what it is like for a practicing NP working daily with MDs.

Sonia, a FNP student

ThirdDegreeNurse said...

Right on. My biggest problems I see are the denial about mixing ETOH and prescription drugs and the smokers. Oh, the smokers.

art.sex.love said...

I live in a community with a huge diabetes epidemic and WHY was shown to me a few weeks ago when the ladies at the laundromat were selling candy to help raise funds for Haiti. I said I'd donate money but didn't want any candy. "How about skittles, it's fruit!" Was the reply. This woman was not young and I imagine that she's feeding her children their daily servings of fruit as skittles or starburst or some other non-fruit, fruit !

Kate said...

Awesome. You got it.

Kate said...

Awesome. You got it.

Anonymous said...

Nobody commented on "piece of dump," so I will. Good work! Your vernacular never ever disappoints. We love you!