By Audrey Quinn
Posting in Cities
Why limiting the size of sugary drinks is good for public health and soda companies alike.
In 2010, when lawmakers in my then-homestate of Washington proposed a soda and candy tax, I opposed the idea. My aversion stemmed from knowledge of a stipulation in food stamp use: state-issued food benefits can't be applied towards taxable items. So people who depended solely on food stamps for sustenance would be denied the option of purchasing candy or soda. While that restriction might have ultimately been "good" for their health, I found the idea of instituting a public health measure most targeted towards the poor distasteful.
I don't see that problem with my current home city's ban on large sodas, which the New York City Board of Health approved earlier today. Why? Sugary drinks are a leading cause of obesity because they have a secret weapon other high-calorie items don't. They've got an unfair advantage on us, and the soda ban is a step in the right direction to combat that.
Here's the deal -- beverages don't activate the same "full" sensation that food does. Eating 800 calories may leave you stuffed, but drinking 800 calories in soda has far from the same effect.
In an article I wrote on the topic for Dr. Oz's website I explain that our bodies sense beverages and food using completely different mechanisms. If you eat 800 calories, those calories impact the body and the brain in such a way that you’ll reduce your consumption of other foods. However, when calories come in the form of a liquid—even if the calorie amount may be the same as the solid food—research shows that you don't eat less later on. Drinking 800 calories before your meal doesn't translate to eating 800 less calories during your meal.
We don't sense fullness from beverages because humans didn't evolve with a need for that skill. “One could speculate,” Richard Mattes a professor of food and nutrition at Purdue University told me for the Dr. Oz article, “that evolutionarily, after weaning, we really didn't have energy-yielding beverages. Yes, we've had beer and alcohol for 12,000 years, but in the scope of evolutionary time that's a trivial time frame. Throughout most of human evolution water was the beverage.” So for most of human history there was little need to judge calories in drinks because, aside from breast milk, calories in drinks just didn't exist.
Super-sized sodas prey on that poor judgement, filling us with calories we can't even sense we're consuming.
As far as concerns from the soda sellers, I don't see the giant soda ban (which limits sugary drinks at restaurants, street carts, and movie theaters to sixteen ounces) as a significant threat. Just look at the way coffee chains have gotten away with shrinking their drink sizes. Retailers can still sell "large" sodas for the same price, the cup will just have to be smaller. And if customers want more than sixteen ounces of soda, they'll have to buy two drinks, giving the retailer more money than they would have if they could have bought one giant soda.
Yes, ounce per ounce the soda distributors will likely sell less soda to NYC retailers due to this ban. But ultimately, is this really an industry whose interests should be driving our health policies?
Sep 13, 2012
John McGrew is correct on this one. When the government pays the bills (with Other People's Money), the the government can tell you what to do. The government pays for your health care; therefore the government can tell you what kind of food you can eat. When I quit drinking "sugary drinks" about fifteen years ago, I dropped five pounds the first five days. While this is true, there are many, many other factors determining my weight and ocerall health than what I drink. So, Audrey Quinn (and Michael Bloomberg) - please provide me with an official approved list of what I am allowed to eat and drink, what kind of car I'm allowed to drive, what clothes I'm allowed to wear, what movies I can watch, what sports I can folllow or participate in, and what I can spend my money on, and what excerises are mandated by your supreme authority. Thank you. One last thing. Mayor Bloomberg stated that this move will save lives. How many? How do you track that? Please come back in two years and tell us exactly how many lives were saved by this assinine decision.
But if we're going to have socialized medicine, this is the future we'll have to expect. Your health [i]is now my business[/i].
Why are we being subjected to far left wing commentaries on this site? Who cares what this individual thinks about regulations and attacks on personal freedoms? This is something suitable for the "Huffington Post" and not ZDnet.
This article points the main blatant fact about this law. It FORCES people to spend more money for the same amount of soda so the big corporations can pay their CEO more in unearned bonuses. The mayor of New York must be getting kickbacks.
Just what a free people who are losing more of their freedoms every minute need: Another advocate of the nanny state. "We the privileged learned and intelligent know what is right for you the stupid, unlearned masses." Listen, lady, you need a lesson in individual liberty as guaranteed by the Constitution so I'm passing a law that requires you go to founding freedom school. Oh, that would be taking your liberty, your freedom of choice from you? It works both ways.
Think we should ban the type of shoes you wear --too tight, skirts--not hip, fruits---not trendy and on and on. Government has NO business dictating anything and will soon find they (bureaucrats and pols) will be held accountable for what they have created. Can you spell revolution??
So instead of buying one big drink people will opt for 2 or 3 drinks instead. Good effort but ya gotta change the mindset not the product package!
and don't drink them. OK for others though. Places like NY and CA have always been stickling their noses into others busiess. banning things. Finding out what people like to do and putting a stop to it. That's fascism right there.
Apparently New York mayor and legislation feel their people are too dumb to make choices for themselves. Many have fought for this freedom and I DO NOT believe anyone has the right to dictate what I choose to eat or drink. If I am paying for my health insurance and choose to continue drinking more soda then no one should be able to pass a law banning that 20 oz. choice. GET REAL this is the 21st century.
This article is so misguided it's scary. Apparently in the 21st century, it's ok to limit others freedoms. It's ok to force them to get health care. It's ok to force the successful people to support the lazy. Let's just call it Communism and stop this charade.
Of course since you're sucha die hard supporter of fascistic totalitarianism, it's not going to bother you.
America is a country of personal freedoms. Within the confines of the law. And there used to be a time when it was understood that laws which did nothing more than limit the harmless freedoms of people are unexceptable because they encroach on each persons right to choose how to live their lives without harming others. These are the protections of civil rights and civil liberties. A law which limits how much soda a person can drink encroaches on the choose to drink a lot of soda. This is an example of one person/group not being able to get another person/group to do things their way, so they have the law force them to do it. I'd go so far as to group this kind of law in with laws like "ban homosexual marriage" or the classic eighth amendment alcohol ban where personal preferences are being rolled over by the opinions of a loud, overly-nosey group. If you want to cut down soda consumption, don't pass laws. Increase public awareness. Create ads and programs to teach the dangers of soda. Don't just tell everyone, "We don't like the choices you make, so we are going to make them for you."
Can we just ban soda for all the stupid people? This is so wrong on so many levels. But then again, people aren't getting enough veggies. Can we make the restaurants sell them in bigger servings and stand there and make them eat more?
What other behaviors with health and social costs should we be considering banning? One of the prime-time stars at the Democratic National Convention was Sandra Fluke, infamous for her starring role in arguing why the rest of us should be footing the bill for her birth control. What I don't understand is why the unmarried Ms. Fluke should be permitted to have unprotected sex in the first place, if the social goal is to promote general health and contain health care costs. There is no greater cost to society today than the spread of social diseases combined with the social costs of unplanned and single parenthood. The cost of sugary drinks can't even compare to that. Since we've clearly decided that it's now the government's responsibility for the health and cost for these problems, logically it certainly isn't birth control we should be buying people, or sugary drinks the first things we should be banning.
I don't think they will [opt for 2 or 3 drinks] though, geofer50. I think the act of having to get up and buy a second or third drink in order to consume 30 oz of soda WILL change mindsets by making such consumption a more conscious choice.
DimeDrl, I don't believe this ruling limits consumer choice. People can still buy and drink as much soda as they like. The drink size limit just gives consumers a helpful cue to pause between consuming one sixteen ounce quantity of soda and the next, instead of guzzling it all down without taking a second thought.
stores can't even stock any cup size larger than 16oz. if it uses a self-serve dispenser, so they are still limiting the size of diet drinks available. Once again, this ban is forcing people to pay more even if they're drinking a diet soda. Glad you're not an accountant.
If you want to drink more than 16oz of soda, then you have to buy multiple cups. Multiple cups of soda cost more per ounce than a single serving the same size will. So in essence you're making people pay more for the same soda because YOU don't want them to drink it? You're a hypocrite, and the mayor of NYC is a buffoon. This isn't going to prevent ANYTHING in regards to obesity, and anyone with a clue knows this. Where's the ban on steaks, beer, wine, alcoholic beverages, or any other food product that is high in fat or calories? Is that next? Is the nanny state going to take care of all of us? Also, this ban also applies to diet sodas, which by my reckoning doesn't cause obesity, so how is that fair?
Sugar does not cause obesity just as eating fats does not cause obesity. Eating too much sugar or too much fat or to much anything else for that matter contributes to causing obesity. If a person really wants to they can get fat eating too many vegetables. At the root of it is human behavior. Do certain items trigger stronger responses than others? Yes. But to say they singularly cause obesity is over simplifying the issue. Case in point. The rush to market low fat or no fat products is often blamed by nutritionists for the increase in sugar, salt and carbs in processed foods. Instead of moderate amounts of all four in a food, say a Twinkie, you get a glut of sugar and salt that replaced some of the fat to help improve the flavor once the fat is removed. Now you have more of an addictive item, sugar, which makes people want more Twinkies. In the end you consume 2 Twinkies to try and satiate your sugar craving when before you would have eaten just one. Yes you may have reduced the overall fat intake, but you probably tripled their sugar intake, doubled their salt intake and probably quadrupled the calorie intake. When did they stop teaching everything in moderation? It is sad that you have to make it a law forcing portion control on people. It is all about teaching good habits young. Teach you kids they can have only 1 Twinkie a week. Teach them to share by having them give the other Twinkie in the package to their brother, sister or who ever.
@hates idiots. Yes you are right. Diets drinks often contain aspartame, which is an acknowledged poison. I have noticed that people are becoming aware of this, and so drinks manufacturers are dropping it. Aspartame is made by a company that was headed br Donald Rumsfeld, and he got it passed by the FDA, when he was in power. Beforehand it was considered to be poisonous. It was, and still is. Can there be anybody who does not know that sugar causes obesity?
"DIRECTLY apply" is a nice way of saying that even though the law doesn't say you can't get a bigger sized diet drink, it does say that an establishment can't stock any cup larger than 16 oz. size. So maybe it's not directly telling people they can't get a 85 oz. diet soda, but it is indirectly prohibiting them from getting a cup that large, so it's a de facto ban on a larger sized diet soda although not a de jure one.
A growing amount of research indicates diet soda is likely a bigger contributor to obesity than regular soda and now they are tracing cancer causing carcinogens to it. http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jul/01/news/la-heb-diet-soda-weight-gain-20110701 http://diet.lovetoknow.com/dangers-diet-soda http://suite101.com/article/diet-sodas-and-cancer-a33215
Just to clarify, this ban does not directly apply to diet sodas. Also, the reason I see this legislation as more effective than limits on other high calorie items is that it's easier to consume (often unknowingly) large amounts of sugary beverages than large amounts of high-calorie food or alcoholic beverages, making sodas a more significant contributor to obesity.