“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…”

Occasionally at Sip & Savor, we’ve been known to beat our heads against the wall when the media recite, as they often do without question, that sugar-sweetened beverages are driving obesity rates in America. The halls echo the familiar refrain, “What part of ‘full-calorie soda sales have declined 12.5 percent over the past decade while obesity rates have increased,’ don’t you understand?”

It’s a war between statistics and hyperbole – facts versus emotions. That SSBs are only seven percent of calories in the average American’s diet stands little chance in the face of politicians proclaiming that soft drinks are a life and death matter of the utmost urgency. (It is the age of foolishness.)

New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley plays on emotion. He wants the politicians to “regulate food products that harm the most people” and provide information that will “facilitate their choosing healthful products” all with the goal of “preventing needless deaths.” Politicians protecting you from harm, making better choices than you can make for yourself and saving your life. You’re welcome.

Three thousand miles from New York, Willie Brown, a politician of celebrity status and former mayor of San Francisco, has a different take on the matter. Speaking to an audience of African-American ministers in Richmond, Calif., where the city council is trying to pass a tax on sweetened beverages under the guise of making people healthy, Mayor Brown refutes the scare tactics.

"If you want to address my health, you ought to be adding something to my paycheck," Brown said. "You aren't going to make me healthier by adding another penny to the things I have to buy." (It was the age of wisdom.)

New York City’s unemployment rate as of July 2012 is 10 percent. In Richmond it’s 15 percent - nearly double the national average. Better times could be in store if the politicians in New York and Richmond spent more time on job creation and less time drawing up grocery lists for people.