If you hadn’t heard, New York City’s board of health approved Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on large sugary, sweetened drinks on Thursday September 13, 2012.
Under the plan, all restaurants, fast-food joints, delis, movie theaters, sports stadiums and even food carts will be barred from selling sugar-sweetened drinks in cups larger than 16 ounces.
The limits will not apply to drinks sold in grocery stores, diet sodas, drinks that are more than 70% fruit juice, or that contain alcohol.
Dairy drinks containing more than 50 percent milk will also be allowed. ~Huffington Post
Before I get to my thoughts, let’s talk statistics:
In 2010, 36.7% of adults in New York state were considered overweight (BMI of 25 – 29.9). Additionally, 23.9% of adults in New York state were classified as obese (BMI of 30 or greater) (Source). Since I know this ban is just for New York City and not the whole state, these numbers obviously aren’t the same as the city. However, I did take a look at some county data through the SMART BRFSS and if you select the county that includes New York City, the percentage of obesity was 21.9% in 2010. So, comparable to the state wide data.
Regardless of percentage points, I think we all know the number of both of adults and children becoming overweight or obese has steadily been increasing, no matter which state we live in. The statistics nationwide in 2011 are astounding, with 35.8% and 27.8% of adults being classified as overweight and obese, respectively. This is a total of 63.6% of adults reaching a weight that is above normal.
Now I know there are flaws with using the BMI has the end-all-be-all classifier, but it’s pretty clear that the nation has a problem on their hands. Plus, even those with a normal BMI, really don’t need be drinking that much soda at one sitting — no one should! I’m going to try to be succinct.
I’m for the ban. Why does anyone need to drink more than 16 ounces of a sugar-filled drink? Dare I say that 16 ounces is too generous? Perhaps this is an infringement on our human right to decide, but let’s focus on health. First off, America has a huge problem with portion distortion. Since we’re on the topic of soda, did you know that 20 years ago the average serving size of soda was 6.5 ounces and 82 calories? Now, the average serving size of soda is 20 ounces and 250 calories (Source). For more portion distortion examples over the past 20 years click the link.
Additionally, one California study (and I can find numerous more), found that adults who drank one or more sodas a day were 27% more likely to be overweight or obese and have a 27% higher risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes (source). The study includes data on children as well, but I haven’t even begun to talk about children in this post. You seriously don’t even want to get me started on my thoughts of parents giving their kids sugar drinks.
Ultimately, if the ban can prevent even a handful of people from taking a looking into their lifestyle habits regarding sugary drinks, then I say the ban is worth it. Sure you are allowed to order more than one drink, but perhaps those who want to do that will get tired of paying more. Perhaps the annoyance or burden of paying for more than one drink will be the reason someone starts to analyze why they drink what they do. Sure, perhaps not too.
So why sell it in grocery stores? Why allow diet sodas? I don’t obviously have all the answers and this soda ban isn’t going to solve the obesity epidemic… but every little bit can help. Hopefully those who buy soda at home aren’t drinking a two liter at once. Hopefully those who drink diet soda know that artificial chemicals aren’t the best. These are things we can hope and we can hope the ban makes some impact on the city.
I say kudos to the city for at least trying. Sure more can be done. More can always be done, especially regarding the health of our nation.
If you’d like even more statistics about New York state, view the YRBSS for adolescents and school health and PEDNSS for pediatric and pregnancy information. Click the links above for additional adult information.
Are you for or against the ban? Why? What additional/different actions could be taken?