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Business Should Lead the Fight Against Junk Food

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Major U.S. companies are scrambling to portray a softer side of themselves to the public in this age of crisis and scandal, but Walt Disney's (DIS) recent announcement that it will voluntarily limit product advertising on its media outlets for children by adhering to a set of strict, new nutritional standards caught my attention.

This news came shortly after New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, launched a push to ban sales of super-sized sugary drinks at certain establishments here in New York City. The proposal stirred immediate controversy, with protests from many quarters, including the beverage and restaurant industry.

Bloomberg is creating a "nanny state," they argue, where New Yorkers can't decide for themselves what size sugary drink they want to consume. Where do we draw the line? What product will be banned next?

As a staunch supporter of freedom and liberty, I agree with this line of argument. However, my thinking on this is also informed by a recent trip to the movie theaters where I ordered a large Coca-Cola ( (KO) at the concession counter to quench my thirst.

To my astonishment, I didn't receive a large Coke. Rather, I was served a giant bucket of Coke. My 9-month-old child could have comfortably bathed, or possibly drowned, in the humongous tub of Coke that I was served. It was absurd and comical except for the disturbing realization that people actually sit around drinking these monstrosities on a regular basis.

I drank a lot of soda during the movie that evening, and it was delicious. I even had to get up and visit the restroom several times. Yet, I only drank a small fraction of the entire vat of Coke that I was served. If I had any more I probably would have been sick, and I have a strong stomach.

Then I got to thinking: What are the economics that have turned a large Coke into a small child's swimming pool? How could it possibly make good business sense to serve such a ridiculously large soda? People are demanding this?

I don't know, but I assume it does make economic sense or else the food and beverage industry wouldn't be so outspoken in its opposition to Bloomberg's controversial proposal. It's not like he wants to prevent them from serving sugary drinks. He's only pushing for a limit on the size of those drinks, and the limit -- 16 ounces -- is hardly small.

Stock quotes in this article: KO, KFT, DIS, GOOG 

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