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Thread: NYC ban of large-sized sodas

  1. #1
    the druthers Mordecai's Avatar
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    NYC ban of large-sized sodas

    What do you all think about this? I have to say, I'm in favor. I usually look askance at Bloomberg's nanny state measures, but this one makes sense to me. People are just not ever going to be able to act rationally when faced with the gluttony and all-permissiveness of the American fast food industry. It's in our nature to seek out sugar and a good value.



    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/31/ny...ed-drinks.html

    New York City plans to enact a far-reaching ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts, in the most ambitious effort yet by the Bloomberg administration to combat rising obesity.

    The proposed ban would affect virtually the entire menu of popular sugary drinks found in delis, fast-food franchises and even sports arenas, from energy drinks to pre-sweetened iced teas. The sale of any cup or bottle of sweetened drink larger than 16 fluid ounces — about the size of a medium coffee, and smaller than a common soda bottle — would be prohibited under the first-in-the-nation plan, which could take effect as soon as next March.

    The measure would not apply to diet sodas, fruit juices, dairy-based drinks like milkshakes, or alcoholic beverages; it would not extend to beverages sold in grocery stores or convenience stores.

    “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 City Hall’s sprawling Governor’s Room.

    “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.”

    A spokesman for the New York City Beverage Association, an arm of the soda industry’s national trade group, criticized the city’s proposal on Wednesday. The industry has clashed repeatedly with the city’s health department, saying it has unfairly singled out soda; industry groups have bought subway advertisements promoting their cause.

    “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.”

    Mr. Bloomberg’s proposal requires the approval of the Board of Health, a step that is considered likely because the members are all appointed by him, and the board’s chairman is the city’s health commissioner, who joined the mayor in supporting the measure on Wednesday.

    Mr. Bloomberg has made public health one of the top priorities of his lengthy tenure, and has championed a series of aggressive regulations, including bans on smoking in restaurants and parks, a prohibition against artificial trans fat in restaurant food and a requirement for health inspection grades to be posted in restaurant windows.

    The measures have led to occasional derision of the mayor as Nanny Bloomberg, by those who view the restrictions as infringements on personal freedom. But many of the measures adopted in New York have become models for other cities, including restrictions on smoking and trans fats, as well as the use of graphic advertising to combat smoking and soda consumption, and the demand that chain restaurants post calorie contents next to prices.

    In recent years, soda has emerged as a battleground in efforts to counter obesity. Across the nation, some school districts have banned the sale of soda in schools, and some cities have banned the sale of soda in public buildings.

    In New York City, where more than half of adults are obese or overweight, Dr. Thomas Farley, the health commissioner, blames sweetened drinks for up to half of the increase in city obesity rates over the last 30 years. About a third of New Yorkers drink one or more sugary drinks a day, according to the city. Dr. Farley said the city had seen higher obesity rates in neighborhoods where soda consumption was more common.

    The ban would not apply to drinks with fewer than 25 calories per 8-ounce serving, like zero-calorie Vitamin Waters and unsweetened iced teas, as well as diet sodas.

    Restaurants, delis, movie theater and ballpark concessions would be affected, because they are regulated by the health department. Carts on sidewalks and in Central Park would also be included, but not vending machines or newsstands that serve only a smattering of fresh food items.

    At fast-food chains, where sodas are often dispersed at self-serve fountains, restaurants would be required to hand out cup sizes of 16 ounces or less, regardless of whether a customer opts for a diet drink. But free refills — and additional drink purchases — would be allowed.

    Corner stores and bodegas would be affected if they are defined by the city as “food service establishments.” Those stores can most easily be identified by the health department letter grades they are required to display in their windows.
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    The mayor, who said he occasionally drank a diet soda “on a hot day,” contested the idea that the plan would limit consumers’ choices, saying the option to buy more soda would always be available.

    “Your argument, I guess, could be that it’s a little less convenient to have to carry two 16-ounce drinks to your seat in the movie theater rather than one 32 ounce,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a sarcastic tone. “I don’t think you can make the case that we’re taking things away.”

    He also said he foresaw no adverse effect on local businesses, and he suggested that restaurants could simply charge more for smaller drinks if their sales were to drop.

    The Bloomberg administration had made previous, unsuccessful efforts to make soda consumption less appealing. The mayor supported a state tax on sodas, but the measure died in Albany, and he tried to restrict the use of food stamps to buy sodas, but the idea was rejected by federal regulators.

    With the new proposal, City Hall is now trying to see how much it can accomplish without requiring outside approval. Mayoral aides say they are confident that they have the legal authority to restrict soda sales, based on the city’s jurisdiction over local eating establishments, the same oversight that allows for the health department’s letter-grade cleanliness rating system for restaurants.

    In interviews at the AMC Loews Village, in the East Village in Manhattan, some filmgoers said restricting large soda sales made sense to them.

    “I think it’s a good idea,” said Sara Gochenauer, 21, a personal assistant from the Upper West Side. Soda, she said, “rots your teeth.”

    But others said consumers should be free to choose.

    “If people want to drink 24 ounces, it’s their decision,” said Zara Atal, 20, a college student from the Upper East Side.

    Lawrence Goins, 50, a postal worker who lives in Newark, took a more pragmatic approach.

    “Some of those movies are three, three and a half hours long,” Mr. Goins said. “You got to quench your thirst.”
    For reference for our foreign friends, certain shops and restaurants in America serve customers sugary soft drinks as large as one to two liters for a single-serving.


  2. #2
    thirst world problems Octopussy's Avatar
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    I'm not sure what good it is going to do, besides enrage the "nanny state" critics (which is always fun, but still.) People who buy crap like the Super Big Gulp are obviously not concerned about their health and are just going to get their sugar fix some other way - like maybe with a Big Texas Cinnamon Roll.

  3. #3
    it's a long long climb Kari's Avatar
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    I think its stupid.

  4. #4
    she said destroy Lágnætti's Avatar
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    Well, it's certainly not going to hurt anyone not to be able to buy a cup of sugary water the size of a garden pond. I'm actually horrified that anyone would want to, especially anyone who would then complain or express puzzlement at being fat/unhealthy, but that's folks for you - oblivious in the face of facts. Obviously though, sort of thing should be part of a wide-ranging strategy to reduce junk food consumption and promote better public health or it's not going to have much of a real effect.

  5. #5
    it's a long long climb Kari's Avatar
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    It's stupid because the size of the thing becomes immaterial. Yes, a 32 oz soda has a lot of calories, but also has a lot of ice at a movie theater and that's unaccounted for. Meanwhile, you can head on over to Starbucks and get a 16 oz Fat n' Sugar Frappucino that has something like 1100 calories, but that's not banned because it is within the size limits. I dunno, I am in full support of helping people with portion sizes, but it just seems arbitrary to me.

  6. #6
    condemned to wires and hammers ebby's Avatar
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    It definitely would need to be more than just a ban depending on drink sizes - I don't see how that'll have much of a major impact other than to piss off the people it's apparently designed to help. It's a strange sort of effort towards forcing people to start to eat healthier instead of being something across the board that combines educating people about food and healthier eating, as well as encouraging people to actually buy healthier food by having it more affordable for people than the junk food.

    I don't understand those sizes of drinks myself, to be honest, but I'm really not a fan of overly sweet drinks and carbonated drinks are something I don't actually enjoy drinking for the most part.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Bastien's Avatar
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    I think it's ridiculous. I don't drink soda at home, period, so if I go out I should be allowed to buy whatever size I please. Soda in public places just doesn't seem like a huge contributor to obesity, as the people who drink soda enough for it to effect their weight most likely drink the hell out of it at home. It just seems rather pointless to me.

  8. #8
    I think this whole thing is absolutely ridiculous. The obesity epidemic in the US is not the result of lack of regulation in the food/drink industry, it's because of the American culture of always wanting bigger, better, more. It's basic economics - Americans don't buy gigantic sodas simply because they're available, the retailers are providing them because demand for them exists. Limiting drink sizes is going to do fuck all to change the underlying culture behind America's obesity problem.

  9. #9
    she said destroy Lágnætti's Avatar
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    ^You know, I disagree that this is something based on a peculiarly American psychology. Obesity levels rising to alarming levels across entire populations seem to occur regardless of location if junk food outlets predominate and provide the majority of cheap, easily-obtained food in increasingly huge (as in good value!) sizes for the greater majority of people. I tend to agree with Mordecai that populations need protecting from corporations whose agenda is to predominate in the market place to the exclusion of any other options. We all know how giants like Starbucks deliberately put alternative operations out of business as a matter of course by opening excess outlets to draw business away from smaller outfits who can't take the loss of revenue the way a major corp can.

    Did you know that Crete (of all places) has a massive obesity problem, one of the worst in Europe? I was watching this British show on youtube the other night. Apparently 80% of Cretans in urban areas are obese. 80%! They're not American, they have next to nothing in common with American values or American lifestyles. They still eat together as families, etc. What's changed in the past few years is simply that the traditional Cretan diet of greens, dairy and grains with a little meat has been replaced with Greek urban junk food - fried, fatty, meat-based junk food, on the whole, served by endless outlets and that urban living means nobody gets any real exercise unless they do it deliberately, which nobody does.
    Last edited by Lágnætti; 06-03-2012 at 05:01 PM.

  10. #10
    I think that obesity epidemics arise out of cultural factors, but I agree that it's not the only contributing factor. Fast food restaurants on every corner certainly make it easier to get and stay overweight, but it's kind of a chicken/egg argument, isn't it? I really find it hard to believe that fast food restaurants just arbitrarily start to pop up and the population gets overweight as a result - couldn't one also argue that it has more to do with firms responding to an increased demand that arises out of any number of cultural factors (such as greater dependance on easy-to-acquire food, for example)?

  11. #11
    she said destroy Lágnætti's Avatar
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    Ah, the old 'demand' argument. Yes, it is totally a chicken/eggt thing, but I tend to fall on this side of the argument - demand in this sense is absolutely created by marketing and thenceforth by market saturation, by a thing becoming the norm rather than the expeption. Advertising exists to create desires we never had. It works, too, as we all know. There's a reason fast food corps spend unholy amounts of money on advertising their horrible rubbish and shaping our desires rather than letting simple demand decide where our cash falls. It always seems erroneuous to me to say that people demand x, y or z in the world we live in, whether it's awful, disgusting reality TV shows or horrible fast food outlets. Nobody ever went to a TV executive and demanded Big Brother, for example. Edmomol sold a show, which was well-promoted and marketed to certain high-spending demographic to ensure advertising revenue, the product then blanket-saturated entire channels and media and was then reproduced when the formula was successful to the point where there was little other than reality crap on the telly for years afterwards. Public 'demand' in the sense of people actively saying 'this is what we want' didn't really come into it until the product already existed and had been carefully marketed to them. After a point, there are people who think that's what TV is and smply don't know or 'demand' any better until it's shoved in their faces by someone else using the same strategem. Same with fast food, IMO.
    Last edited by Lágnætti; 06-03-2012 at 05:45 PM.

  12. #12
    We'll just have to agree to disagree on that point. Advertising does work, but not to the point that it creates international demand on astronomic levels from which an obesity epidemic arises. I think it's pretty extreme to say that advertising alone creates the demand that drives people to fast food restaurants and makes them fat. Yes, there is a whole psychology inherent in food advertising (red and yellow are colors that encourage hunger - look at the Sonic, BK, McD, Wendy's logos and color schemes) that is effective and certainly drives traffic. But any effective advertising campaign is successful in creating top-of-mind awareness. So then is advertising to blame for an increase in demand of anything and everything? No. Advertising is only part of a very large problem.

    There are so many other factors that contribute to America's obesity problem, which then leads to an increased reliance on fast food (and arguably an addiction to it). Again, I agree that there is a level of "if you build it, they will come" in the fast food industry, but there are soooo many other things going on here that are ingrained in our culture.

    Reliance on automobiles to get around, lack of physical activity, lack of knowledge/education about healthy eating, cultural norms surrounding food/eating are all cultural factors that contribute significantly to the obesity epidemic in the US. Access to fast food is part of the problem, but there are so many other things going on that contribute to the problem that regulating the fast food industry absolutely cannot address.

  13. #13
    Administrator Ryan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kari View Post
    It's stupid because the size of the thing becomes immaterial. Yes, a 32 oz soda has a lot of calories, but also has a lot of ice at a movie theater and that's unaccounted for. Meanwhile, you can head on over to Starbucks and get a 16 oz Fat n' Sugar Frappucino that has something like 1100 calories, but that's not banned because it is within the size limits. I dunno, I am in full support of helping people with portion sizes, but it just seems arbitrary to me.
    Yes! What if I want 32oz of Minute Made Light lemonade from Wendy's as opposed to 16oz of Mocha Frappe from McDonald's? I can tell you which one is worse for you, but according to the drink size chart it won't matter.

    I think the whole thing is stupid. Jon Stewart did a pretty good job of summing it up for me.

    ETA: The Hulu video didn't show the whole thing.

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/th...ck-your-poison

  14. #14
    Senior Member uncanny hats's Avatar
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    Did container companies stock go up?

    The measure would not apply to diet sodas, fruit juices, dairy-based drinks like milkshakes, or alcoholic beverages; it would not extend to beverages sold in grocery stores or convenience stores.
    If I remember correctly, drinking lots of fruit juice isn't exactly great either. Obviously, milkshakes are bad and so are large alcoholic beverages.

    The whole thing seems surreal to me.

  15. #15
    the druthers Mordecai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayPea View Post
    Advertising does work, but not to the point that it creates international demand on astronomic levels from which an obesity epidemic arises.
    I just find it hard to believe that people on their own initiative just started banging down the doors of 7-11, demanding two-liters of soda in a single serving. Rather, it seems like some kind of arms race within the fast food/junk food industry, wherein you market "good value!!" with no regard to the health consequences.

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