So Long, Supersizes?
New York City bans restaurants and movie theaters from selling jumbo sodas
People in New York City may soon be slurping down fewer jumbo-size drinks. Last month, the city banned restaurants, movie theaters, and sports arenas from selling sugar-sweetened drinks larger than 16 ounces. The ban goes into effect in March 2013.
New York’s ban comes at a time when health experts and lawmakers are trying to address a nationwide obesity problem. About one third of adults in the U.S. are obese, or dangerously overweight.
Being overweight has been linked to serious health problems, including heart disease and diabetes. Many health experts say extra-large portions are partly to blame for the country’s weight problems.
From french fries to hamburgers, popular menu items have gotten bigger over the years. But the size of soft drinks has ballooned most of all.
In 1955, the only fountain soda size available at McDonald’s was 7 ounces. Today, a large drink at McDonald’s measures 32 ounces. Other fast-food restaurants sell jumbo 64-ounce drinks. The average hamburger has also gotten bigger—it’s now three times the size it was when your grandparents were kids.
The result: Each day, Americans consume hundreds more calories and a lot more sugar than they did a few decades ago. At the same time, most people have been exercising less than previous generations, so they’re not burning off those extra calories. That combination has caused millions of Americans to become overweight.
A POSITIVE STEP?
In recent years, soft drinks have been the focus of other efforts to fight obesity. A number of districts around the country have banned the sale of soda in schools.
Some nutrition experts say New York City’s supersize-drink ban will help people make healthier choices.
But not everyone agrees that banning large sugary drinks is a good way to teach people healthy habits. Nutrition expert Julie Feldman says it would be more helpful to “educate families about the types of food they should include in their diet—versus talking about all the things they shouldn’t include.”
Other opponents of the soda ban say it takes away individuals’ freedom. They argue that consumers should be allowed to buy as much of a product as they want. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed the soda ban. He point outs that the law limits only large portions. Consumers are still free to buy as many 16-ounce or 12-ounce drinks as they like.
“In the case of full-sugared drinks, in moderation it’s fine,” Bloomberg explained on the Today show. “All we’re trying to do is to explain to people that if you drink a little bit less, you will live longer.”