New York City became the first city to almost make supersize soda cups a thing of the past. But an appeals court issued a ruling on Tuesday that that the city's health department exceeded its legal authority by trying to place a size limit on sugary beverages served in fast food restaurants and other eating establishments.
The proposed portion size cap was set to restrict the sale of sodas and other sugary drinks that are larger than 16 ounces in food establishments, including fast-food chains, restaurants, movie theaters, sports arenas, delis, and street carts. It would have included the now-typical 20-ounce soda bottle from the corner deli and most oversized fountain drinks available in fast-food establishments and movie theaters.
The beverage industry called the measure unfair and ineffective.
The city has promised an appeal. Indeed, as the city points out in the headlines of its press release: Obesity Kills More Than 5,000 New Yorkers Annually; Sugary Beverages are Key Driver of the Obesity Epidemic.
Mayor Bloomberg issued the following statement in the release:
Since New York City's ground-breaking limit on the portion size of sugary beverages was prevented from going into effect on March 12th, more than 2,000 New Yorkers have died from the effects of diabetes. Also during that time, the American Medical Association determined that obesity is a disease and the New England Journal of Medicine released a study showing the deadly, and irreversible, health impacts of obesity and Type 2 diabetes -- both of which are disproportionately linked to sugary drink consumption. Today's decision is a temporary setback, and we plan to appeal this decision as we continue the fight against the obesity epidemic.
I hope the city wins its appeal.
As a nutritionist and health activist, here are five reasons I support the mayor and city's health department.
1. Sugar-sweetened beverages provide nothing but empty calories. Soda offers no nutrients and no health benefits. No one needs to drink more than a pint size of sugar water at one sitting.
2. The larger the cup, the more calories (and sugar) a drink contains. For example, while a small soda (16 ounces) at KFC contains 180 calories, the Mega Jug (64 ounces) contains nearly 800 calories -- more than one-third of an entire day's recommended calories for some people. It is no surprise that obesity and other diseases including diabetes have been linked with the consumption of soft drinks
3. While a 16-ounce soda was once considered large, today it is called small. It would be great if we can go back to more normal size cups. As I previously wrote, the portion sizes of soft drinks and other foods have grown considerably over time and so have our waistlines. The sizes of soft drinks have morphed into jugs and half-gallon containers large enough for a family of eight.
4. The portion size restriction is not a "ban" as many headlines call it. The city is not banning soda or telling consumers that they cannot drink soda. Rather, the portion size cap is calling attention to how much is considered a reasonable portion at one time.
5. And, finally, the 16 ounce size restriction is quite a reasonable size: It is A PINT size and double a standard Food and Drug Administration (FDA) serving size.