What will it take for us to lose weight? Should we follow New York City's lead and ban sweetened drinks over 16 ounces?

All the discussion about New York City's effort to limit large sweetened drinks in NYC restaurants got me thinking about how we got in this fix. I can still remember the glee on my kids faces (now 19 and 21 yrs old) when a waitress refilled their soda glasses without asking. Up until that moment as the mom I had the chance to say "no thanks" when refills were offered. I sometimes let the kids order sodas out but I didn't know I was signing up for refills.

Fast forward 10 years and now the standard soda portion at many restaurants is 20 oz. What would happen if we limited sweet drinks to 16 oz rather than 20-32 oz? We could take away of few of the packets of sugar in the video and maybe a few pounds off the the people drinking them. Two researchers analyzing 1624 fast food receipts set out to find out what difference it might make. A study from New York University combined the information on receipts from 2 studies to see what impact the policy would make.

Some of the aspects of the study that jumped out at me;

  • 62% of the sweetened drinks purchased were over 16 oz.
  • The average calorie count for the larger drinks was 230 calories, plus or minus 86 calories (milkshakes were not included)
  • If all of the people consuming over 16 oz switched to 16 oz or less they would take in 74 fewer calories (if they switched to water even better)

When that waitress plunked down another glass of soda for my kids she handed them around 150 calories and 8 teaspoons of sugar they didn't need. I will be watching what happens in NYC. If the policy passes it will be interesting to see if those 74 calories add up to fewer pounds on the people of NYC.

Tagged: sweet drinks, restaurants


Jean Robart 5 years, 9 months ago

nope. It's just another one of Bloomberg's stupid ideas. It would be better to watch what is eaten

larrytdog 5 years, 9 months ago

Dan Ariely, the M.I.T. Behavioral Economist, has been quoted as saying most Americans watch news not to hear the unbiased truth, but rather to hear their pre-existing beliefs repeated back to them. Given this, I have to wonder how many of these P.S.A.'s are created not to change attitudes and behaviors, but rather to energize the anti-sugar (smoking, meat eating, fur wearing, etc.) lobby?

TrishUnruh 5 years, 9 months ago

I agree with Marilyn that it is an interesting question. But I also use test tubes filled with the equivalent amount of sugar for different foods when I am counseling clients. Many of my clients are amazed by the number of teaspoons of sugar in 12 oz. can of soda. (8 teaspoons) The visual makes an impact.

Currahee 5 years, 9 months ago

It won't do anything. You will eat bread and those carbs turn to sugar.

Marilyn Hull 5 years, 9 months ago

We know that the approach of the last 20 years--educating people about healthy food choices--has been a failure.

If policies like this are not the answer, then how do we reverse the collective weight gain that is driving up insurance premiums, costs and taxes for all of us?

TrishUnruh 5 years, 9 months ago

I just ran across some interesting information from Dr. Robert Lustig, a professor of Pediatrics in endocrinology at UC Davis. He plotted the increase in portion size for soda and estimated the pounds gained per year.

Based on one 12 oz regular soda/ day you would be expected to gain 16 lbs in a year. Drinking one 20 oz soda/day you would gain 26 lbs/yr. The average adult in the US is 25 lbs heavier than 20 yrs ago.

I would rather not regulate portion sizes, but I see a wave of people with diagnosed with diabetes in the next 20 years if we don't change course.

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