FoodFacts.com has been following the proposed ban on the sale of large-sized sugary beverages in New York and bringing our community any news we can find on this controversial proposition. There are many conflicting opinions about the proposed legislation, but in March, the New York State Supreme Court struck down the plan. It is currently under appeal.
While the issue is being pondered by the judges, further research into the effects of such a ban nationwide is being conducted. Coming out of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, one such study presents much food for thought on the subject.
The research is showing that the restriction of the consumption of large sugar-sweetened beverages would affect 7.5% of Americans on any given day … and an even larger percentage among those who are overweight. This would include 13.6% of overweight teenagers. The study also points out that such restrictions would not discriminate against the poor, finding that low-income individuals would not be disproportionately affected.
This study analyzed national data. Researchers note that the results suggests that bans of this nature would be a strong measure in obesity prevention even if they are implemented in various regions, instead of across the nation. Over 19,000 dietary records from National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys from the years 2007 through 2010 were analyzed.
60.5% of Americans consumed sugary drinks on a daily basis. 7.5% purchased those drinks from food establishments in 16 ounce or larger portions on any given day. That figure rose to 8.6% among those who are overweight. This increased again to 13.6% among overweight teenagers.
Since the legislation has not been passed, the researchers do not yet have a model for the scope of change it might actually cause. If passed, consumers would be free to drink sugary beverages in smaller sizes as much as they would like. Restaurants would seem to have the option of offering free refills or discounts on refills. But these assumptions aren’t certain, so the researchers used different scenarios to estimate how the policy might cut calories and consumption.
They propose that reasonably, 80% of large-sized sugary-beverage drinkers would downsize to a 16-ounce sized portion and that 20% may consume two drinks of that size. In this scenario, adults would cut 63 calories from their diets daily and children and teens would cut 58 calories. Both groups would remove three to four teaspoons of sugar from their daily consumption.
Simple calorie reductions like these can have a tremendous effect on excess calories consumed by Americans – especially our nation’s teens.
Another recent study coming out of Harvard has illustrated that teenagers are more likely to underestimate the calories they are consuming from fast food restaurant offerings. While soda consumption was not a specific focus of this study, the findings do underscore the propensity of teens towards more caloric fast food options.
The researchers also feel that the portion size restrictions in food establishments could influence behaviors within American homes (where most sugary beverages are actually consumed). Keep in mind that at McDonald’s, a 12-ounce beverage is child-sized, 16-ounce drinks are small, 21-ounce drinks are actually medium and 32 ounces are large-sized. It’s very possible that those serving sizes are, in fact, causing us to pour larger servings automatically when we’re in our own kitchens. Between the years 1999 and 2004, an average American teenager consumed 301 calories in sugar-sweetened beverages every day. That’s 13% of their total daily calories. In order to burn those 301 calories, they would need to walk more than five miles.
While the debate regarding the proposed ban on large-sized sugar-sweetened beverages continues in the New York Supreme Court, studies like this certainly raise some important points and possibilities. It gives us all another viewpoint to ponder as we await a final decision. FoodFacts.com will continue to keep you up to date on important news on this significant issue and its nationwide implications.