New York Pushes Envelope With XL Soft Drink Ban

photo: NY Times

New York mayor Bloomberg is not giving up on his fight to combat obesity. After failed attempts to impose a soda tax (shot down by the state legislature) and restricting sugary beverage purchase with food stamps (killed by the FDA), it seems the mayor has found a way.
In a groundbreaking move announced yesterday, New York will ban the sale of large sugary drinks (over 16 fluid ounces) in food establishments such as restaurants, movie theaters, delis, food trucks, and street carts. The ban will not affect fruit juice or diet drinks. It will not affect bottled drinks sold in supermarkets and bodegas.
From the New York Times:

“Obesity is a nationwide problem, and all over the United States, public health officials are wringing their hands saying, ‘Oh, this is terrible,’ ” Mr. Bloomberg said in an interview on Wednesday in the Governor’s Room at City Hall. “New York City is not about wringing your hands; it’s about doing something,” he said. “I think that’s what the public wants the mayor to do.” read more…

The beverage industry is obviously livid and will do everything it can to overturn this ruling:

“The New York City health department’s unhealthy obsession with attacking soft drinks is again pushing them over the top,” the industry spokesman, Stefan Friedman, said. “It’s time for serious health professionals to move on and seek solutions that are going to actually curb obesity. These zealous proposals just distract from the hard work that needs to be done on this front.”

Our thoughts:

1. Sugary drinks have zero nutritional benefit. Overconsumption has been associated with obesity. But there are so many other factors that come into play, that the beverage industry can claim that there is not one single cause for this country’s weight gain, and therefore it is not fair to attack soda makers.

2. Sugary soft drinks have become a symbol of obesity caused through excess empty calorie consumption. This move is more symbolic than anything else. But never underestimate the ability of symbols to inspire much more substantial change.

3. We hope this ban, whether it succeeds or not, can snowball into a more systematic approach to solving our obesity epidemic.

Curiously, PepsiCo yesterday announced a new advertising deal with Twitter.

What do you think about the ban?

  • Lauren Smith

    I agree that the ban has more symbolic power than anything else. 

  • Serpensphile

    Politically, I say the community has a right to do what they want to do, but personally I believe in the right for a person to choose.  People are not stupid and there isn’t a person in the this country that doesn’t know that drinking and eating excess sugar is bad for them.  IMHO, I think if people want to get obese they should be able to do so, BUT MAKE THEM TAKE RESPONSIBILITY.  If insurance companies want to make them pay for extra coverage because they are fat, then great!  But just don’t make me pay for their dumb choices!!!    

    • Lauren

      it’s not about stupidity it’s availabilty. When a 3 cup beverage can be a small our “eyes” get used to enormous sizes. 

      • Serpensphile

         But I choose not to drink sodas.  It’s my free choice and if I DO want to partake, I don’t expect YOU to either buy it for me or take care of me if I get sick.

      • Cartoonguy_99

         In other words, you’re too stupid to tell the difference cuz of your “eyes”.

  • Peroua

    Maybe it’s more symbolic but I see there something like the law that ban cigarettes from bars and restaurant (here in province of Quebec, Canada) six years ago. The bars and restaurants owners disagreed, arguing that will lowering there economic activity. The law didn’t increase the number of non-smoker in our province, but it offered a better living environnment for all of us. That’s the same point for soda, a better environnment. If you read the book “mindless eating” from Brian Wansik, you’ll see that we are, as eaters, more than influenced by our environnment and little changes on a side can make big difference on the other side. Plant the seed, it’ll grow up eventualy. 

    Be indulgent about my english, i’m a french speaker. ;-)

    • Cartoonguy_99

       So, do Quebecers deem it necessary to throwing soda in your face?  Is that why it needs to be regulated?  Cigs weren’t banned because they effected the Smoker’s health, but the NONSMOKERS’ health.
      If you’re not able to tell the difference then english is the least of things to worry about.

  • Kevin

    I think its pointless.  When someone can just say “I’ll have two,” you haven’t changed how much the consumer has consumed.  This is why you need to decrease demand.  If two regular size sodas are more expensive than an XL (assuming an XL is twice as large) it would decrease some demand, but then its effectively just a tax on big soda drinkers, so why not just initiate a tax.  That is something that would actually decrease demand and decrease consumption.

    • Peroua

      Many of them wont order two drinks at the same time. They’ll have to ask themself the question. 
      Of course, decrease demand is a goal, but it can be done in addition to the decrease of the offer.

  • George Babbitt

    This has nothing to do with health. If a person wants to drink more soda, they will buy another soda, thus generating another sale and another tax collection.

    • Peroua

      If a person wants to drink more soda, they’ll to ask themself the question before. At that point, just asking the question is a progress in the respect of their signals, at that point, some will say no, some will say yes and a bunch of them will not overconsumming as they would do if it was just a bit more availaible. It is a way more complex situation than just a want or not want, I swear to you. 

      • George Babbitt

        You’re syntax is hard to understand, but either way I believe the response to you should mention something about liberties if you get my drift.

  • Lauren

    If the beverage industry was smart they’d jump on board as a PR opportunity and help out. Nutritionists can point out the “savings” in moving to smaller beverages and parents can curtail what that purchase. Can’t we all play a role?

  • Clear Eyes

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    • confused? 0.0

  • Monique Cheney

    I’m all about helping people get healthy but obese people are pretty much addicts…their drug of choice is bad food choices high in sugar and fat. Most people want to be fat because its easy and affordable to them. Being healthy and eating right takes wayyyyyyy to much effort for the average American family and can be expensive. Like most have said I don’t think this ban is going to change anything. I think people with obesity should pay higher insurance premiums just like those that smoke. People who eat healthy and work-out should pay lower insurance premiums and co-pays because we never see a dr but maybe once a year for an annual physical. If you make it more expensive for people to be fat then they will work harder to lose weight.  

    • Daizdy

       You have got to be the most ridiculous person I’ve seen (read) this week!  There are just as many thin soda addicts as there are obese ones.  Just because a person is thin doesn’t mean that person is healthy.  Thin people make bad food choices too… A LOT of bad food choices.  To say people “want to” be fat is ludicrous.

      However, I do agree that smokers and the obese should pay higher insurance premiums and should be required to enter a smoking cessation program or a weight-loss program…

    • Shelli Bre`na

      I just had to point out your idiotic remark, “Most people want to be fat because it’s easy and affordable to them.” Where in the world do you get your information? Rare are the individuals who WANT to be fat. Food addiction is the problem, it’s more convenient to “feed” the addiction than to put out serious efforts in overcoming the addiction. You are just so so wrong in saying people want to be fat. That’s just ignorant.

  • Carol Plotkin

    Yea for Mayor Bloomberg!!! It’s not all about choice. Research shows that the more choice people have the more that they eat, even educated people (people who know better) eat more! Check out Dr. Wansink’s research on mindless eating. As a nutrition professional, I believe that there are too many unhealthy choices in the world today that weren’t there 35 years ago. We need less unhealthy choices and kudos to Mayor Bloomberg for having the guts to take a stand!!

    • EVIL food scientist

      So, the answer is to legislate foods you don’t like out of the marketplace? To add a “sin” tax to them? To make it illegal to sell them in your state?

    • Serpensphile

       So then, explain to me why YOU are able to make a healthy choice and THEY aren’t? 

      • Cartoonguy_99

         Because she thinks she is smarter than the rest of us. The same as all Food Nazis.

  • Jen

    First, I don’t agree with the ban in general.  People should be free to choose what they want to eat or drink.  The real need is for education – people need to know what drinks are healthy vs. not and what is an appropriate portion size for various drinks.  My other problem with this is that fruit juices are not included.  If you’re going to ban large sodas, then you really should be banning large orange juices and the like also.  OJ has roughly the same amount of sugar per ounce as soda, and not much more nutritional benefit – and the problem with it is that people think OJ is good for you so it’s fine to drink a lot of it.  When really, OK is good for you if you just drink, say, 4-6 oz per day.  Educate people instead of trying to parent them all!

    • Woodpatti

      Well said! We really need to control the lies companies use to push their products. Education and truth in advertising will go farther than soda bans.

  • Rip

    Lol at the sugar packets in front of the drinks. There is no sugar in any of those bottled drinks. High Fructose Corn Syrup isn’t sugar, but poison.

    • Cartoonguy_99

       Actually it’s 50ish percent Fructose and 40ish percent glucose. Common, natural sugar.
      But propagandize at your convenience and false sense of superiority. Carry on.

  • Bella

    I am disappointed they did not enact the ban on diet sodas as well.  Diet sodas containing aspartame have been shown to be just as obesity promoting as all the sugary ones because it changes the way a person metabolizes food.

    Secondly, there are many marketing studies that show that a person will only buy one soft drink.  Shoppers are not inclined to buy a second soft drink no matter what the price or the size of the drink is.  In France for example, a large drink at McDonald’s is the same size as a small drink in the US and consumers have not been shown to be inclined to buy more because they were getting less.  It has to do with the ‘embarrassing’ situation of having to buy a second drink because one is just not enough for the ‘fat guy’.  On the other hand, if a store wants to sell more, people will buy an extra large drink because it appears to be okay to buy one drink even if it is a large one.

    One reason people buy large drinks is simply because they appear to be cost effective and not really because they ‘need’ that much.  For example, an extra large drink will only be 25 cent’s more and offer twice as much as the small drink that costs 2 dollars.  Marketing teams know that even though no-one really desires that much cola, they are willing to hand over 25 cents more if they get twice as much.  So that’s what the do.  Then people think it is okay to consume large amounts of cola– when it is not.

    If you read the book called “Fat Land” it explains very well how this works.

    I think this law is wonderful!

    • Cartoonguy_99

       ”Diet sodas containing aspartame have been shown to be just as obesity
      promoting as all the sugary ones because it changes the way a person
      metabolizes food.”

      This is completely FALSE. Correlation =/= Causation.  Fat people drink diet drinks in the false hope that it’ll keep them from getting fatter (what’s making them fat is the over-consumption of calories).  Skinny people don’t drink diet drinks because they’re skinny!  Why would you start drinking diet unless you’d started gaining weight?

      Fat people drink diet so obviously the diet drink is why they’re fat. Brilliant.

  • Almacote

    I’m glad of the proposal. It doesn’t go far enough. That crap is poison for our bodies. The same with tobacco and other crap INCORRECTLY identified as food! If people are going to argue rights, then we should argue the right to sell paint cans for huffing. Why not? Isn’t it up o the consumer?? Jeeez!!

    Poison is poison. First we need to educate. Then we need to support and help those who want to change. But once that’s happened, we need to stop paying the health costs for those who choose to abuse their bodies. It’s quite simple.

    • Cartoonguy_99

       So, if it were up to you, we’d all eat nothing but boneless, skinless, chicken breast with brown rice and broccoli 3 times a day. Oh and of course the chicken was free range fed an organic diet and the brown rice and broccoli were picked by virgins for sure.

      Hmmm, I wonder what kind of choices you made today that I could regulate. Pick your favorite and get back to me.

  • Knowfoodnow

    FDA regulations passed in March 2010, require menus in restaurants that have over 20 locations to show calories.  Of course you can still eat whatever you want.  Movie theaters are exempt.  I guess you can buy as many 18 oz sodas as you want, too. A soda with a soda back anyone?

  • J in VA

    Don’t many restaurants have unlimited refills when eating in? So in this case you’ll just be refilling a smaller cup

    • Cartoonguy_99

       Ah, maybe it’s actually a CONSPIRACY!!!!  Restaurants actually want big gulps to be banned so they can charge you for a small drink, and then charge you everytime you want a refill! GENIUS!!!!

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  • Guest

    The fact is, once everything in the U.S., became Super-Sized and King-Sized, so did the people. We are a gluttonous nation full of people always wanting more for less and the proof is in the super-sized dollar menus, extreme couponing show, etc. I think this ban will be a huge eye-opener. Will this immediately decrease obesity? Probably not. Let’s not forgt the king-sized candy bars are next to the soda machines. Has it had a huge reaction and gotten everyone talking? Yes, and that’s the first step to making real changes.  This helps bring about the realization that maybe, just maybe, 8-12 oz., is really all you need to be satisfied. Not 32 oz. Out of sight. Out of mind.

    • Cartoonguy_99

       ”Let’s not forgt the king-sized candy bars are next to the soda machines.”

      And that’s the problem right there. Soda, then candy, then unapproved fruits (bananas don’t have enough fiber! Banned Bananners!)

      You naive people and your regulations. What’s the one thing you love to do, ok now it’s banned. Carry on.

  • Britastina

    Wow!  Where to start?  First, education obviously isn’t working.  Everything has gotten so bad that it looks like excess calories decrease IQ points.  Then there are the farm conglomerates who aren’t in the food business at all.  Then there is the money deficit in the public schools causing the cancellation of recess and physical education (not to mention extracurricular sports programs).  Then there are food deserts.  The school lunch program.  Has anyone looked at what our children being fed at school?  Now, as people are trying to do something about this abysmal situation, people start screaming “Nanny State”.  Oh, there’s “belittle the messenger”.  In the mean time, let’s kill our children very, very slowly.

    • Cartoonguy_99

       ”looks like excess calories decrease IQ points. ”

      There are so many commenters with the attitude of ‘these people are stupid’.
      Is that the point of this site? To feel superior? Seems like that’s the overall theme.

  • shelli bre`na

    I’m just going to say it. This pisses me off. Why? Because of all things to target, beverage sizes? How about the mega fat bellied men with the beer bellies? They aren’t getting those beer guts from drinking large beers, they get them from drinking many beers, which has no nutritional value. How about them cigarettes? Anything healthful about those? How about buffets? Oink! If I want to have a 44oz Coke for the caffiene that I’m going to drink on all morning then I should be able to have it. How about all those cups of coffee people “need”? A mayor with his own personal laws, democracy? Where?

  • Cartoonguy_99

    Bloomberg should run for mayor of idiot town.  Singling out one food is ridiculous beyond any for of rationale I can think of.  Sounds like he’s trying for some kind of shakedown payout from soda companies.  The fact that Juice which usually has at least the same amount of sugar calories is exempted just shows how ignorant he is.

  • Fasting to Free Cartoonguy_99

    Why do you keep deleting Cartoonguy_99′s posts? Are you so fucking insecure in your bubble of opinionated misinformation you cannot handle the truth? Well, what am I saying…of course you are hiding from reality — that’s what pathetic peckerhead scam artists do, isn’t it? So, disregard my silly expectation you might uphold some small degree of journalistic integrity. I should know better by now. My bad. Please thrust your head back up your ass and return to your business of disseminating shitty agenda-driven urban myths like the sold out pop culture shill you are. Go fooducate yourself, asswipe.

  • LJSM

    Wow, XL drinks… I bet they’re going to go to 5XL…

    • ___________

      Sorry… my name was supposed to be LJSM.

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  • Will

    What stops ppl from buying 2, 12 OZ drinks instead then?

  • k78

    I’m not quite sure where to start on this one. As the “land of the free”, we sure are taking out a lot of the freedom. I agree that soda is bad for a person’s health. I used to drink about a gallon a day, I gained A LOT of weight. When I stopped drinking soda, I lost A LOT of weight. That in itself should tell people something. The other downfall of drinking soda is that it has rotted all of my teeth, to the point that my tongue can crumble them. I know McDonalds got rid of their extra large drinks and extra large fries, good for them. I think more needs to be done because we as people have lost sight of what is what. A true serving of food from there is a happy meal, not the big kids one, just the regular one. We need to start being more healthy for not only ourselves but for our children and their children. Our unhealthy habits are affecting healthcare in the worst way, prices have gone up and most people cannot afford to have any. We need to get a grip on ourselves and make ourselves better people

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