I hate the nanny state. It says “Liberty” on my money and I take it seriously.
But I find myself thinking Mayor Bloomberg has an idea worth trying on limiting portion sizes. I know why. But I’m also trying to justify it intellectually. Here goes…
Why is simple: I’m a parent. I had a huge fight with my 11 year old when I told him: Yes, you can have this sweetened beverage as a treat. But it’s too big, so it’ll have to be two treats.
Case closed. No nanny state required. Just do your job as a parent.
Except his answer was: [name of his stepdad] lets me have the whole thing.
i grew up with mere 12 oz. sodas. It’s plenty. Bloomberg is actually a wimp.
But can I justify this and not the nanny state?
Here’s my attempt: Information. A serving size implies “this is an appropriate amount to consume at once.” Our brains process this instinctively. You’ll eat less if your plate is smaller.
Ray Kroc, the genius behind McDonald’s, thought that a larger size of fries was a silliness. Just buy a second bag. One of the many things that made him rich was being willing to be proven wrong on. People needed the signal that it was “reasonable” to eat more fries than a single bag. (Though not all.. when I was unsupervised as a kid, I’d buy 3 milkshakes. They make those in larger sizes too now.)
Humans have been gauging portion sizes long before they were measured in ounces. A serving size not so obviously “bulk” tells the brain “this is how much you should consume.” So perhaps Bloomberg is just mandating less inaccuracy in the information conveyed to these instincts. Better information makes us both freer and better off economically.
More simply: Big servings sizes lie.
And a true nanny state wouldn’t let you buy two. Or a six pack.
But the biggest instinct of all may be the parental one: nothing is more human than jettisoning principles and logic for your own child’s welfare.