It's no secret that sodas and other sugary beverages are implicated in the obesity epidemic in the United States. Seeking to combat this crisis, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently proposed a policy of banning large-sized soda drinks that, if approved will go into effect in March 2013. The New York City Board of Health is all set to vote on the proposal in September.
The proposed ban, which is a first of its kind in the nation, limits the size of sugary drinks to 16 ounces or less at restaurants, mobile food carts, delis and concessions at movie theaters, stadiums and arenas. However, grocery or convenience stores are excluded from the proposed policy. Violation of the regulation would result in a fine of $200 each time it is transgressed.
Today, the standard container size for soda is 20 ounces, accounting for about 250 calories, whereas the average size of a soda 20 years ago was only 6.5 ounces, which amounted to 85 calories.
Researchers from New York University who evaluated the potential effect of the proposed soda ban by analyzing consumers' purchases of these beverages have found that "in most though not all of their simulations, the policy appears to be associated with a decrease in calories from sugar-sweetened beverages purchased at fast-food restaurants.
According to the data included in the evaluation, 62% of the beverages bought at the city's fast-food restaurants would be subject to the policy. The average calories from sugar-sweetened beverages per consumer in the study was about 200 kcal.
An analysis of the data found that if all the consumers switched to 16-ounce drinks and no one bought 32-ounce, or two 16-ounce beverages, the calorie intake per consumer, per fast-food meal, could be fewer by 63 kcal.
However, there won't be any change in the calories consumed if only 30% of consumers switched to 16 oz, while the rest purchased 32-ounce, or two 16-ounce beverages. On the other hand, only if 80% or more of consumers purchased 32-ounce would calories from sugar-sweetened beverages purchased increase, say the researchers.
In the city of New York, which is well known as "The Big Apple", 60 percent of adults and 40 percent children are said to be overweight or obese. It is estimated that 5,800 New Yorkers die annually because of obesity or overweight, and $4 billion is spent on health care costs related to obesity every year.
Health experts have lauded the Mayor's anti-obesity initiative, while critics who believe that there is no link between obesity and fizzy drinks have lashed out, alleging that the proposal violates people's civil and constitutional rights. Will the proposed ban on big sugary sodas have a smooth sailing or run into ground? Stay tuned...
by RTT Staff Writer
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