Relevant Musings: Big Soda Ban in NY Blocked… Win or Loss for New Yorkers?

Justice Milton A. Tingling Jr. of State Supreme Court in Manhattan blocks New York City’s ban on big sugary drinks.

Picture this…  Your child’s school superintendent holds a meeting for parents and informs you that the school cafeterias have been stocked with junk food, and that the kids are consuming mainly cookies and doughnuts and soda. That’s making them fat and giving them diabetes and will likely kill them at an early age. Therefore, the superintendent is going to be making some changes to have less garbage and more healthy stuff available to them. In other words, the superintendent wants to improve the food environment.

NY was about to take a step toward that but that was prevented at the last minute.  Several sources are speculating about how deeply and exactly who reached into the pockets of the beverage industry. Bloomberg appears to be taking it in stride and vows to appeal.

graphic portion sizes- burger fries sodaMany people were up in arms claiming the ban would ‘rob us of our freedom to choose.’ Proponents of the ban assume this voice chiefly reflects the propaganda promoted by the beverage industry to continue to make money by killing their customers, much like the accusations against big tobacco. I will not comment on these accusations but I will share some factual information based on empirical evidence…

People tend to eat whatever is in front of us. That means the kind of food or drink and the amount of food or drink.  Basically, we eat and drink tons more of what is easily accessible, and we eat and drink however much we have in front of us.  There is tons of data proving this. No coincidence that portion sizes and waistlines have expanded in almost perfect parallel in recent decades.  Sugary beverages such as regular soda are a source of tons of (at best) completely empty calories.  Excess calories make us fat and unhealthy.  If 16oz bottles are readily available, we’ll drink 16oz and be satisfied with that.  If 20oz bottles are readily available, we’ll drink USObesityRate1960-200420oz and be no more satisfied but get an extra 47 calories (and 13g of sugar).  Doesn’t sound like much?  Let’s say a person typically gets a 20oz soda with lunch (1 soda per day).  Compared to a person who drinks a 16oz soda every day (I wouldn’t recommend either), a person who drinks a 20oz soda will ingest an extra 17,155 calories over one year, which is an extra 4.9 pounds!!!!! 

Check my math: 47 calories in 4oz of soda.  47 x 365 = 17,155.  3,500 calories = 1lb.  17,155 / 3,500 = 4.9.  Yep, for someone who drinks a soda per day, keeping the extra 4oz that they wouldn’t miss anyway gives them an extra 5lbs of flab every year.

The big soda ban was about making way too much soda less readily available in a form that promotes immediate consumption. It was a small change toward a less toxic food environment. It was going to benefit the health of literally millions of people. The cost? Some restaurants have to buy new glasses and 16oz instead of 20oz bottles of coke in NY. Some speculate that beverage industry would have lost some money and may have invested in an attempt to have the ban blocked.  We may never know for sure why the ban was blocked but we do know for sure it was not the best outcome in terms of our health and that of our children.

25 thoughts on “Relevant Musings: Big Soda Ban in NY Blocked… Win or Loss for New Yorkers?

  1. I do at mcdonalds or wendys or if i go out to a resturaunt (most soda glasses are a little over 16oz…) The problem is what this is a solution to isn’t solved and actually just makes people spend more money so its clearly mroe or less a cash grab rather tahn to “help people” if they want to help people start with nutrition education at school, redo the physical education programs, make sure coaches are not also gym teachers and teach kids to pace themselves and be healthy and for the love of god stop sitting in front of the tv constantly get out and do something 2 or 3 days a week. Heck 30 minutes of activity a day can keep you healthy and burning fat if you do some small things and eat proper portions with slow carbs instead of fast carbs…

  2. Governments in Britain,US & everywhere possible should subsidise the more healthier foods like fruit & veg, fish & lean beef, poultry, etc. & carry out an educational blitz in telling people the dangers from eating a high sugar & fat diet especially re; the transfats that manufacturers & restauranteurs use because it is dirt cheap compared to the more healthier choice. That would b many £ wiser !

  3. The *actual* cost to society of a huge soft drink is not the few pence it costs companies to make them; it is that plus a piece of the increased healthcare costs which will result from increases in diabetes/heart disease/etc.
    At the moment the companies make the profit and we all foot the healthcare bill. How can that be fair ?

  4. The point is not to prevent people drinking large quantities of fizz if they choose to – they can always order two drinks if they really want. It is rather to prevent the standard size of drink offered being excessively large. By a very small adjustment to price the restaurants will still make the same amount of money per customer and less sugar will be consumed. Everyone should be satisfied

  5. Restuarants in NY (and US in general) tend to offer free refils for fizzy drinks. This is probably a bigger issue that the size of the container they come in. The issue here though is about personal responsibility. It shouldn’t be the states job to stop you getting fat !

  6. Trying to keep the population healthy should not be the Government’s resposibility. This kind of legislation is a complete waste of time. People who drink large amounts of fizzy pop are not going to be deterred by smaller drink portions, they’ll just buy more. It’s up to people to manage their own weight and be aware of what they consume

  7. I do believe soda is in part responsible for obesity and diabetes. However, even banning large size sodas in public places would not change the fact that people could still drink as much as they wanted at home. What it comes down to is lifestyle choice
    +that is really up to every individual. I will say fruit juice+healthier alternatives are much more expensive than soda

  8. Ultimately, individuals have social and civic responsibilities. By opting to consume things that make them unhealthy, they are putting a strain on the healthcare system. Perhaps, manufacturers of sugary soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, and other things detrimental to health should be obliged to carry health warnings on their products

  9. Sugars are put into such things as spaghetti sauce (I make home made sauce and never saw any recipe calling for sugar to be added) and pickles. They put that krap in everything. WHY? Because sugar is a drug. They get us hooked on foods with just enough sugar/addictive drug to fly under our taste buds, and voila! people are hooked to that brand/product. I have that beat. I make my own dishes to avoid the processed poisons they wanna’ stuff into us for profit

  10. If someone wants to drink more than 16 oz of soda at a time… they can just buy 2 sodas. Oh no, they’ll have to pay an extra fifty cents to get their sugar rush. What a tragedy. I can’t believe people are getting so worked up about this

  11. On the surface, banning sugar-sweeted beverages may seem a logical direction to take in fighting obesity. If people aren’t choosing to drop the bubbly habit themselves, policy changes could simply force people to adopt healthy habits, right? After all, it’s already been attempted with tobacco products

  12. I think this is absolutely a freedom of choice, where is the constitutional right? Those that want more than 16oz will merely buy more than one drink, who makes the extra money then ?

  13. Well, the major problem is that obesity cost the health system and tax payers a lot of money. When too many people decide on a dangerous life style authorities need to do something. This is a good start

  14. while Bloomberg’s lawyers continue to fight for the soda ban, we can take baby steps towards a healthier lifestyle by taking the stairs, snacking on nuts instead of chips and saying yes to dairy and whole grains.

  15. people should increase physical activity and eat a prudent diet. A prudent diet, based on a wealth of scientific evidence, has many hallmark characteristics and – to Bloomberg’s credit – little or no sugar-sweetened beverages is one of many characteristic of such a diet

  16. Even though we all know consuming mass quantities of calorie-laden foods and beverages are bad for us, Americans still can’t seem to stay away from those big sugary drinks

Questions or Comments?