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Diatribe: New York City’s Sugary Drink Ban.

09/16/2012

Last Thursday, in a move meant to combat obesity and encourage residents to live healthier lifestyles, New York City’s Board of Health voted to ban the sale of sugary drinks in containers larger than sixteen ounces in restaurants and other venues.

“It’s time to face the facts: obesity is one of America’s most deadly problems, and sugary beverages are a leading cause of it.  “As the size of sugary drinks has grown, so have our waistlines — and so have diabetes and heart disease.” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg

The soda industry, and those concerned about government involvement in the personal choices of citizens, are protesting.

“What we need in New York are sensible solutions to the obesity issue that focus on a comprehensive approach to tackle an extremely complex problem.  New Yorkers are smart enough to decide for themselves what to eat and drink.” – Eliot Hoff, spokesman, New Yorkers for Beverage Choices.

Bloomberg’s office has stated that New York City spends an estimated $4 billion each year on medical care for overweight people, about 58% of New York city adults are considered overweight or obese and one in eight New Yorkers suffer from diabetes, a disease often linked to obesity.

The Board’s decision is expected to take effect in six months and be enforced by the city’s regular restaurant inspection team, allowing restaurant owners nine months to adapt to the changes before facing fines.

I think the ban, while certainly well-intentioned, will have little to no effect on the health of New Yorkers.  In fact, it won’t surprise me if they end up drinking more sugary drinks than they do now.  For example, thirsty folks who would normally buy a 20-ounce beverage might now end up purchasing two 12-ounce portions to quench the same thirst.

Funny, isn’t it, that there’s never any talk of limiting alcohol consumption?

What are your thoughts?  Do you think the new ban will impact the overall health of New Yorkers?

UPDATE 02/25/13: Bloomberg wants soda ban to go statewide so it applies to grocery stores.

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14 Comments
  1. I’m going to disagree with you on this one, D&O. New York has been on the forefront of common sense health activities since they banned smoking in public places years ago. The country and now much of the world has followed suit.

    Banning those huge drinks is a good start. Personally, I think manufacturers should go back to the portions of my childhood. 8 oz bottles; candy bars that are reasonably sized (and priced at 5cents!).

    If it is there, it will be consumed. And it is a relatively new deal. I lived in Europe from 97-02. That’s when it happened. When we came back and tried to buy a can of coke for a road trip, all they had in the 7/11 were 20 oz. If it is there, it will be consumed.

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    • Without a doubt, NYC has done many great things to lead the nation forward but I think parents, doctors and common sense should influence an individual’s diet … not the government.

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      • Except it is the government who, through Medicare and Medicaid has to pay for those poor decisions.

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        • So, do you think it will work?

          It it is there, they’ll buy it … Even if they have to buy more in smaller portions?

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          • I think it will slowly make manufacturers stop selling such huge portions. Some people will buy two. Most won’t. Because the cost difference between a 12 oz and a 22 oz is small. The difference between the cost of two 12 oz adds up. Smaller will become the new normal.

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          • Good point. I hope you’re right!

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      • I agree with Elyse. I don’t think people buy those big ones because they’re thirsty, but because they’ll be like “hey it’s more value for money since it’s just a few cents more”. Then when they do buy it, they figure they need to make the most of it and drink it all.

        Is someone going to buy two cups? I doubt it, because it’s just a hassle to carry two cups on the move.

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  2. Talk about gov’t. interference.
    Plus, if someone wants a 36oz Coke and can’t buy one, they’ll buy two 18oz, or 4 9oz or whatever it takes.

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    • I marvel at the fact that, while drunk drivers continue to kill, beer (and sometimes wine) can be purchased at filling stations in unlimited quantities.

      It seems to me that Miller tall boys are more dangerous to the masses than Mountain Dew Big Gulps.

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  3. **Points to prohibition” Uh no I don’t think it’ll help improve health.

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  4. I find it to be kinda funny. I stopped drinking soda about ten years ago, that stuff is like crack on my system. I get blood sugar swings so bad from soda, I’ll feel like I’m having a panic attack an hour or so after I have one.
    On a political level though, I think it’s wrong. It goes too far.
    Maybe it will make people start treating soda less like a refreshing beverage, and more like the poison it is?

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  5. Nutrition starts in the home. But Americans have far too many easy, junk choices. This ban won’t help.

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  6. Great post and comments. Our greatest export is obesity. We are the fattest country in the world according to the World Health Organization. As we age, we are just train wrecks waiting to happen. So, I don’t get too bent out of shape (no pun intended) over this. We need to make more visible these issues and stop supersizing everything. If this helps, then that is good.

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    • I’ve come to the conclusion that the ban certainly can’t HURT. At the very least it’s brought the issue to center stage and discussions are taking place.

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