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Recent Study Examining the NYC Ban on Large Sodas
Mayor Bloomberg has proposed that all movie theaters and restaurants in New York City limit sweetened beverages to only 16 ounces. The hope is this approach will cut back on calorie consumption, although some critics reason that people consume food loaded with empty calories even if you cut back their sugar-sweetened soda. It’s also been hypothesized that people will simply buy 2 drinks if they can’t order a larger size, so the plan could backfire and cause many people to consume more calories than before.
At New York University, a small group of scientists decided to examine the proposed ban and look at the possible consequences. The findings were just published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The group began by looking at data from 2 published reports that contained receipts from consumers at fast food restaurants in many East Coast cities from 2008 through 2010. A total of 1,624 receipts listed a beverage, with milk shakes excluded. The researchers then calculated the calories of each drink from the orders.
Next, the 3 scientists determined what would happen to calorie consumption under a number of different scenarios, assuming consumers choose between a single 16-ounce drink or buying two of the 16-ounce beverages.
Assuming all patrons consumed just a 16-ounce beverage, the total reduction would be 63 calories less. If 70% of patrons bought a second 16-ounce beverage, there would be absolutely no calorie change. If at least 80% of patrons bought two 16-ounce drinks, however, the overall calories consumed from these beverages would increase.
According to the proposed ban, not all drinks that have been sweetened with sugar would be subjected to the 16-ounce limit. To accommodate this, the scientists next re-did their research to include only drinks that would be subject to the ban. These new numbers showed a total of 74 less calories consumed per consumer assuming they had a single 16-ounce drink.
According to the researchers, the ban may decrease the calories consumed by patrons from sugar-sweetened drinks at fast-food chains and movie theaters. Still, no one yet knows the consequences of the ban. Assuming it passes, time will tell whether it achieves its goal of limited calorie consumption by New York City consumers.
At a public hearing on July 24 over New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s controversial proposal to ban big-gulp sodas and over-sized sugary drinks, public health experts compared soda producers and marketers to big tobacco, reported the New York Daily News.
“The industry is spending unbelievable amounts of money to fight this in New York City. They’re using many of the same tactics that the tobacco industry used,” said Dr. Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. Brownell also called oversize sodas a “public health menace.”
“Soda in large amounts is metabolically toxic,” said Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, reported Time.
Will Bloomberg’s Ban on Big Gulp Sodas in NYC Lower Obesity Rates?