>> If a patron wanted, there was nothing stopping them from buying, say, 3 x 16fl oz drinks and gulp that all up. Alternatively, there was nothing stopping them from getting one 16fl oz drink and going for refills.
>> This was entirely on businesses, disallowing them to sell anything over 16fl oz.
This. Are people enraged and screaming "Tyranny!" about smoking bans and requiring cigarette packages to bear warnings? Largely, no. Why? Because aside from a lot of us either disliking second-hand smoke, or being a smoker and being unable to quit, the general consensus is that Big Tobacco was pretty evil - peddling a harmful and addictive product, and Big Government was the only one who could stop them.
See the analogy here? The (mostly large) corporations that provide our food have been pumping more and more high fructose corn syrup & fat into their products, and making them bigger and bigger. o.k., so you argue that they're just giving the people what they want. But that shit is *addictive* - just ask your local fatass sysadmin who lives on Monster and Doritos. Or go somewhere poor and count the obese people. Those people have a lot less "choice" - because Coke and McDonald's is *cheap*, in addition to being delicious.
In NYC (I think it's local), all chain restaurants are required to put calorie counts right next to the food on signs/menus, just like the cigarette companies. I fucking love McDonalds, but I stopped eating there. I'm a supposedly educated, well-off person with a relatively higher amount of "freedom" than some citizens. And I didn't know that almost everything on their menu was a *full day's* allotment of calories, until the Gubmint made them advertise it. (Since then, they've tacked on more lower-cal items, which is good.)
The reality is, advertising, doctoring of products to be addictive, and good ole' disingenuousness ("serving size: 8oz, servings per package: 2" on a can of Monster. What - do I put the other half in the fridge for later?), etc. is used to peddle crap to us all.
o.k., this is the basic nature of selling, you say. (Except for that goofy "make a better product" idea that some nuts espouse.) It's been that way forever. Fine. But when fully *one third* of us are obese, including tons of kids, and when the entities that are selling the stuff are so large that we couldn't possibly take them on, even together, then it's time for the one giant entity that exists to look out for us to level the fucking playing field. Who's going to argue that HFCS and ubiquitous advertising is somehow not manipulative? The gov't is just doing it's (relatively tiny) bit to help us choose to not be manipulated, just like with cigarettes & liquor.
I see the slippery slope - really. I used to be a card-carrying conservative. I'm still registered Republican, for crissake (though I've voted third party in every election since G.W.) But *everything* is a goddamn slippery slope - and a lot steeper in many cases. Why not take the energy you're wasting going full Enraged Libertarian on fucking soda issues, and point it at eternally renewable copyright legislation, or anti-pot laws - or, you know, the police state - by calling your congressthingies.
TL/DR: The gov't has a mandate to provide for the General Welfare. Obesity is an epidemic problem in this country. Making people think about their choices is *helping*, not fascism. Even at the cost of corps making slightly less money. Even if it's more expensive for the country, not less (see other posts for numbers.) And you can still drink 70oz. of Mountain Dew if you want, fatass.