Press-Republican

In My Opinion

April 10, 2013

In My Opinion: American way or American waist?

How will the saga about New York City soda size end, and why should we care?

Earlier this year, the New York City Health Board approved restricting serving sizes to a maximum 16 ounces for soda and other high-sugar-sweetened beverages in restaurants and major sports events.

This regulation translates into denying your serving size to less than about 20 to 22 teaspoons sugar at a time. Your right for a supersized bargain is denied in a country known for freedom.

The “soda ban” was supposed to start last month but was rejected by a judge and continues in the courts.

Is the restriction on container size a good thing? No, according to the American Beverage Association, the National Restaurant Association and other businesses, which sued to block the 16-ounce restriction. Yes, according to public-health officials, who last week appealed the court’s decision ruling against the ban.

Is it our personal right, is it unfair, or is it a well-meaning public-health measure? Should we care what the Big Apple does? Will these limitations eventually branch out to the North Country?

Studies show that soda drinkers tend to consume more calories and that liquid calories do not fill us up the same way that food does. Additionally, we tend to eat or drink more as the serving sizes increase. We try to finish what is served.

As a nation, our interpretation of a serving size is increasing with our waistline. A regular soda a few decades ago is now so small it is hardly available. Even buying a 12-ounce soda in a local convenience store is getting harder; 20-ounce bottles are often the smallest size available. Vending machines are increasingly selling 20-ounce bottles rather than the 12-ounce cans.

Making the consumption of a product less convenient will impact behavior, just like the smoking ban in restaurants did.

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