With so many overweight and unhealthy people, is it okay for the government to regulate what we can eat and drink through legislation? One problem is that when these people get sick, everyone’s taxes and insurance premiums rise to pay for their medical treatments.

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced a proposal to bar food stamp users from buying sodas with city funds. The proposed two-year ban is intended to combat obesity and diabetes. The mayor, who already banned trans-fats from restaurants and lobbied against excessive salt in foods, says the “initiative will give New York families more money to spend on foods and drinks that provide real nourishment.” Though 57 percent of the city’s adults are overweight or obese, the plan has met with skepticism from critics who it see as a paternalistic gesture.

A New York Times op-ed reaction: “Medical researchers have increasingly associated the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages with weight gain and the development of diabetes. Over the past 30 years, consumption of sugary beverages in the United States has more than doubled, in parallel with the rise in obesity, to the point where nearly one-sixth of an average teenager’s calories now come from these drinks.” The authors remind their critics that they are not reducing funding for food stamps, and these users still can purchase soda “just not with taxpayer dollars.”

What do you think?

To read more feedback to the mayor’s idea, read this roundup in The Atlantic.