Face Off: Should the government limit the size of sugary drinks?

Face Off: Should the government limit the size of sugary drinks?

Each week our two teenagers will debate a hot topic. This week ...
Matthew Murchie, 18, Imperial College London (Negative)

Obesity has become a pressing problem recently, not just in Hong Kong, but in the rest of the world. Some have even gone so far as to call it an epidemic - like deadly viruses that attack our world.

A government should care for the well-being of its people. But the question is: does its responsibility include limiting the sugar intake of the population? For me, the answer is clearly no.

First of all, limiting the size of sugary drinks does not solve the root of the problem - a natural craving for sweet food and a lack of education about its bad effects on our health.

Simply trying to stop people from drinking or eating too much sugar by taking away their sugary drinks will do nothing to improve their health.

Secondly, how would the government apply such a law? Anyone can buy two small bottles of Coke to replace one larger bottle!

The idea, in theory, is in the interest of the people, but it is not practical.

Finally, how far can the government really go in trying to protect its people? Perhaps it should limit the amount of caffeine in coffee!

The government has a duty to care for its citizens, but it cannot keep them in a greenhouse and spoon-feed them all the way. Limiting the size of sugary drinks would be useless, and people would feel the government is trying to curb their freedoms and rights.


Elsie Choi, 18, Baptist University (Affirmative)

New York City approved a ban on sugary drinks measuring more than 16 ounces (473 millilitres) in all restaurants, cinemas and stadiums to combat obesity. It found that in neighbourhoods where people consumed the most soft drinks, people were generally fatter than in other areas.

Drinking too many sugary drinks is one of the factors that lead to obesity. In Hong Kong, people are getting fatter as well, so the government should learn from New York.

In my opinion, the size of sugary drinks should be limited in restaurants first, as we tend to choose sugary drinks when we dine out. At the very least, no extra-large drinks should be served.

Some people are just addicted to sugar. The most popular sugary drink, Coca-Cola, has 140 calories in a 355ml can. Just think: to burn all these calories, you have to climb the stairs for 30 minutes.

Also, drinks are not filling, so people don't realise they've had too many calories and sugar. If the serving size is limited, people will automatically drink less - and if they want to save money, they will not buy more.

Some people argue that the government doesn't have the right to limit our choices of food and drinks. However, it must safeguard the health of all citizens.

Limiting the size of sugary drinks is a kind of health education that grabs everyone's attention. This is better than putting out adverts and holding functions that few people care about or take part in.

Moreover, if the number of obese people grows, the government will have to spend more on medical services, thus putting pressure on the taxpayers.

Therefore, the size of sugary drinks should be limited for good.

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