Are Soda Bans the Answer?

New York City may ban sales of sugary soft drinks in sizes larger than 16 oz.

The proposed first-in-the-nation ban would impose a 16-ounce limit on the size of sweetened drinks sold at restaurants, movie theaters, sports venues and street carts. It would apply to bottled drinks as well as fountain sodas.

The ban, which could take effect as soon as March, would not apply to diet sodas, fruit juices, dairy-based drinks or alcoholic beverages. Nor would it include drinks sold in grocery or convenience stores. Food establishments that don’t downsize would face fines of $200.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Wednesday that he “thinks it’s what the public wants the mayor to do.”

The explicit goal of the ban: fighting obesity.

The enemy? Sugar.

Sugar Skulls #1 photo courtesy of Gwen Harlow via Flickr

But not all sugar. Not the sugar in your coffee, tea, or juice. The sugar from your movie soda, but not from the convenience store soda, and not from the sugar in the massive box of Junior Mints you’ll buy with your 12 oz. soda.

I would love to see a greater public policy/public education effort to help people learn to eat healthier foods. I do appreciate the push to make nutritional information more readily available in NYC, for example, but if people do not understand how to equate serving sizes with their actual daily calorie and nutrient requirements, labeling really doesn’t do much good.

I also don’t think that limiting someone to a 16 oz. soda at the movie theater will create any radical change. Will theaters offer free refills? Will people just buy two drinks? And if they drink 16 oz. of orange juice with breakfast, along with a 1/2 pound of hashbrowns fried in non-transfat oil, does the smaller movie drink matter?

I don’t think this soda ban is going to fly, and don’t think it will accomplish much. It seems too selective to be effective, both in the types of drinks it targets and the types of vendors who will and won’t be affected.

What do you think?

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6 Responses to Are Soda Bans the Answer?

  1. Colline says:

    I think education is the key – people need to understand WHY they should cut down on their soda intake. As you say – people will just buy two.

  2. Rochelle says:

    I totally agree! The problem is not SODA – it is so much bigger than that. You make a great point by saying the movie theaters may offer free refills or buy two drinks (pricey!) and they will still be offering candy and other sugary snacks. To me, this is a half-assed attempt at solving a huge problem. Soda isn’t the enemy – lack of nutritional education is!

  3. Although this is not enough – it’s a start! And hopefully it will continue to spread and be talked about everywhere. Maybe this is the stepping stone we need. I say IT CAN’T HURT!

  4. I agree it isn’t going to solve obesity. However I do think that people now have a distorted view of what is a normal/standard/healthy serving. It’s only a teeny tiny step but perhaps it will make some people think twice. No one really needs more than 16oz when they are watching a movie, having dinner, etc.
    Some of the drink cups in US cinemas are buckets not cups… and to be fair the UK and Ireland aren’t that far behind you.

  5. Any law that takes away my freedom to choose how I live my life (as long as I am not hurting others) is not a law that I can support. A soda ban is not right for me or America.

  6. Sure, Soda Bans are a good start, but the next step is banning juices, tea drinks, etc!! Almost all beverages have calories and sugar in them so it will be pretty hard to BAN them all!!! I wish they could but unfortunately it’s really not possible. It all comes down to people’s WILLPOWER and people’s choice. I myself will be sticking to ZEVIA and Sparkling H2O 🙂

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