Pop Science: The Case for and Against the Soda Ban


However, David Just, a professor of behavioral economics at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., didn't support the ban based on different scientific criteria.

"We have good evidence that regular soda drinking puts on excess weight but we don't know what happens when we take it away or place limits. People may not drink less, they may not decrease calories, or they may replace it with something else equally caloric," he said.

Nearly 80 percent of soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages are sold in supermarkets, big box stores and convenience outlets, according to Beverage Digest; these types of establishments would not be covered by the Bloomberg serving size limits. Just said that because only restaurants, delis and movie theaters were shrinking soda sizes, the regulations would probably wind up targeting occasional rather than habitual soda-drinkers.

Executive director of Center for Science in the Public Interest, Michael Jacobson is a supporter of the Bloomberg initiative. He conceded that the initiative would have a modest effect on soda consumption and obesity rates at best, but he said that misses the point.

"It was a move in the right direction and should be considered as one part of a much larger strategy to limit the use of the only product demonstrated to cause weight gain," Jacobson said. "It's not a perfect measure, and it wouldn't solve all problems. But taken together with other regulations we've been lobbying for, like warning labels on soda containers and a limit on the amount of sugar a drink can contain -- and the soda industry is feeling the pressure."

Bloomberg, too, has also argued that the ban was one vital step of many in the war on obesity. He has vowed to appeal the court's ruling, highlighting the initial resistance to many of his previous initiatives that were met with initial resistance but ultimately accepted by the public. The addition of calorie counts on fast food menus and the elimination of trans-fats in restaurants come to mind.

"Already our proposal to limit the size of sugary beverages has changed the national conversation around obesity," Bloomberg said in a statement.

This may be true -- but with some unintended consequences. In Mississippi, a state where one in three adults is obese, the "Anti-Bloomberg Bill" has received bipartisan support and now sits on the governor's desk.

If passed, the law would bar counties and towns from enacting rules that require calorie counts to be posted, put a cap on portion sizes, or keep toys out of kids' meals.

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