Large Sodas Soon Illegal in New York?

Soon to be illegal?

This is a brave move: New York mayor Bloomberg plans to outlaw sales of sodas larger than 16 oz. (about 50 cl). This in an effort to actually do something against the obesity epidemic.

New York Times: New York Plans to Ban Sale of Big Sizes of Sugary Drinks

While some complain about the “nanny state” my take is this: Anyone who regularly drinks sodas larger than 16 oz. could probably use a nanny.

Good job, Bloomberg.

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106 Comments

  1. luke
    What will we say when they start regulating saturated fat?
  2. What got me in to LCHF is FatHead which is very liberation. Education should be the top of our list and not legislation.
  3. We can't legislate away the problems of society. =/
  4. Next they'll be banning high-fat foods. After all, everyone knows they're bad for you.

    Having the government tell people what to eat has been a miserable failure so far. We need them to stop, period.

  5. Asa
    You can't legislate stupid! We have freedom of choice. If a store wants to sell me a bucket of soda and I want to buy it, that is between me and that store! What is the difference between buying a case of sodas and ONE big gulp?? Besides the cost?
    Education is the only answer and then the choices will follow!!
  6. Looks like I'm not the first to observe that government regulation of diet is BAD. Period.

    You can applaud the banning of large sugary drinks all you want -- then you'll have a cow when butter is banned (or taxed, as in Denmark).

    Government bureaucrats know LESS THAN NOTHING about nutrition or diet, so when they actually get something right, it is pure random chance at work, nothing more.

  7. Reuven Keen
    Whilst I would have to agree that the idea of any government interfering with people's food choices is distasteful, if a society is in crisis then strong measures may be required.

    I would offer though that if mayor Bloomberg really wanted to do something about obesity then outright banning the sale of soda would be a better move.

    I would also speculate that perhaps the mayor an ulterior motive. Wouldn't banning the sale of larger portions of soda simply induce people to purchase even more of the smaller ones if they are addicted. More individual sales would lead to more sales tax revenues.

  8. I'll have to respectfully disagree with you here. I agree that drinking that much soda is pretty disgusting, but don't agree with removing that choice from people. I feel our focus should be on those who wish to make themselves healthier people. Not bully the ones who want to eat and drink things that we -all- clearly know are beyond terrible for us. They know, we know.

    What will happen if passing laws like this take on elsewhere. What next, charging sin taxes, or banning sale of certain sized portions of fatty red meat? Bacon? Full fat cheese? Butter? (all the things dietitians villainize here)

    Nobody bullied me into eating healthy, I stumbled on it by accident. I felt great, so I wanted to keep it up. I hope nobody thinks I'm a bully when it comes to talking about LC.

    This was how I got my fiancee interested. (one, he thought I was cute, so asking about LC was a great excuse to chat me up). Shortly after we met, he said something about not wanting to gain weight, and I mentioned LC. I didn't lecture him about the can of HFCS soda he was drinking at that moment, simply mentioned in passing that LC was at least something to check into, because at least with it you can "eat your fill" and not "go to bed hungry". He told me later (after finding out what LC was all about, and seeing for himself how terrible that soda habit was) that if I had chosen to talk about how horrid his choices were instead, he would have never looked up LC, and most likely distanced himself.

    Made sense to me. I knew a pushy vegan. She'd regularly badger me about how "terrible" animal products are. I ate a 3lb beef burger smothered in bacon and cheese out of spite after one incident. The very last last thing her attitude made me want to do was to check out her vegan diet.

    Sorry to sound so angry! But passing bills like this is the reason US and Canada swapped out lard for trans fats in deep fryers, I'm scared of what other damage they'll do if we let our governments make these choices for us.

  9. John Myers
    The true cost of sugars in the diet on our society is not reflected in its retail price.

    The diseases driven by processed carbs are wildly skewing our economy, mostly in medical costs.

    We need to stop our magic thinking that we have a "Free Market" and make it a reality by taxing sugar, or anything that's driving our diseases of civilization, into obscurity.

    New York is taking a different approach, but it's better than nothing.

  10. Steve
    Take away large sugary drinks today, what is off the menu tomorrow? The law would not apply to diet drinks or FRUIT JUICE or dairy based drinks like MILKSHAKES LOLOLOLOL. Please Mr.Bloomberg, jump off of a very high bridge! There is not logic to this, just more political posturing and BS!!

    You cannot legislate morality or good choice, you have to educate.

    You're a smart guy Mr.DietDoctor, but you missed the boat on this one by a long shot!

  11. C. Buck
    Dr., you don't quite understand how screwed up our U.S. society can be. Many here would submit to being required to carry our "papers" with us as we move throughout the country(hasn't happend yet,) but would consider a ban on 32oz soda an all - out assault on our freedom.
    Personally, taking away the political power of food corporations by banning monetary contributions to politicians and encouraging education would go much further and be the correct approach. Unfortunately, we have a growing anti-intellectual movement in this country.
  12. Steve
    @John Myers

    Who gets to be arbiter of 'anything that's driving our diseases of civilization' and what if he/she/they happen to believe the common wisdom that fat is high on that list?

    @C.Buck

    I love it when people label others who disagree with them as anti-intelectual, it shows a certain lack of, oh, I don't know, intelligence.

  13. Chris Bogle
    As long as so many of the foods on our grocery store shelves clearly claim sugar as the second or third ingredient, just attacking sugary beverages will not solve the obesity problem.
    A tour of the store would shock most of us.
    Hot dog buns, pasta sauce, crackers, yogurt, canned soup, hamburger helper, salad dressing, ketchup, frozen pizza, whole wheat bread, canned pasta.
    All with added sugar for no apparent reason.
    But many of them carry a large flash claiming Low Fat.
  14. John Myers
    question:
    Who gets to be arbiter of 'anything that's driving our diseases of civilization'

    answer:
    science

  15. Peggy Holloway
    But what do you do when the local newspaper publishes this interview with the "Livewell Omaha" dietician?
    http://www.omaha.com/article/20120531/LIVEWELL02/705319933/1161
    This "takes the cake" if you will excuse my pun.
    I posted a scathing comment, but they probably won't publish it. I would love to have as many people as possible flood their comment section with critiques - maybe you should be less confrontational than I was!
    If they don't publish my comment, I'll try again and not be so accusatory (I suggested the article bordered on criminal conduct!)
  16. weird
    This might sound harsh. First, we need to educate people what is healthy and what is not (yes real fat - real food, no sugar and processed crap) then let everyone eat whatever the hell they want. Maybe we can fix the human race by eliminating stupid sick people... Bring back survival of the fittest!!
  17. I didn't think of that Chris, and it's the same in Canada too. I'll hazard to guess, if the import store I used to frequent in Toronto is anything to go by, the food quality in parts of Europe are infinitely better then products available here. They had plenty of packaged sauces and foods that weren't healthy, but not nearly as terrible as what is on the Canadian market, and not marketed as the "healthier option" as is here.

    Same list of foods as you posted Chris, same problems in Canada. Loaded with added sugar, Some contain half a dozen different kinds of sugar! This is not including all the added starches to act as thickeners. All this while happily displaying "low in fat", or, worse featuring the heart and stroke foundation "health check" on the front of the package.

    So, as far as paying the health costs are concerned, Many overweight or T2 diabetic people here don't drink soda, and don't eat fast food. Because it's "bad for you". Unknown to them, they get pounds of added sugar and starch from their "heart healthy choices" at the grocery store.

  18. @John Myers "The true cost of sugars in the diet on our society is not reflected in its retail price."

    Granted. But taxing or prohibiting foods with added sugar is not the right approach. It is a misuse of governmental power.

    I would be ok with the total elimination of the subsidies that make the above statement true, however.

  19. Donna E
    Don't outlaw it (yes, fat could be next!) Tax it. Tax it a LOT. As Adam Smith said: "Sugar, rum, and tobacco are commodities which are nowhere necessaries of life, which are become objects of almost universal consumption, and which are therefore extremely proper subjects of taxation." (The Wealth of Nations, 1776)
  20. Alexandra M
    "...when people label others who disagree with them as anti-intelectual..."

    Steve, I don't think C. Buck was labeling anybody here. He's talking about the fact that there is a long tradition of anti-intellectualism in America. We tend to distrust "pointy-headed" experts. People who are interested in deep understanding of a subject are called "geeks," or "nerds," or "wonks." We had a presidential candidate recently (Santorum) who announced that thinking people should go to college is snooty!

    Ironically, the medical establishment's failure to recognize the usefulness (and healthiness) of LCHF diets has probably resulted in more distrust than ever, and more people will rely on anecdotal evidence to make health decisions.

    From Gary Taubes' blog:

    "This, too, should be interesting, as I’ll be presenting my Why We Get Fat lecture an hour after Robert Eckel speaks. Eckel is a former president of the American Heart Association who is on record saying that he doesn’t even think low-carb-high-fat diets should ever be tested, that it’s unethical, because they’re so dangerous."

    I've noticed at the supermarket this week that a lot of the "low-fat" advertising has been replaced by "gluten free." I suppose that could work, but not for the right reasons.

  21. Maggan A
    Alexandra M

    "he doesn’t even think low-carb-high-fat diets should ever be tested, that it’s unethical, because they’re so dangerous."

    What luck for the rest of the world that the Sweedes, Finns and Norweigans are voluntary as guinea pigs ;-)

  22. Oh, come on... I can't be the only one to see the devious way around this? Outlaw 16 oz drink. Buy two. This is just dumb.

    This reminds me very much of a Canadian law I stumbled on in a Toronto brewery. They were allowed to give out free beer samples as long as it was less than 8 ounces. I believe I had about 10 of them.

  23. Murray B
    I'm not so sure dose restriction of refined sugar is a bad idea. Bars are not allowed to sell "Big Gulp" 20 oz martinis. No one needs that much sugar at one sitting. They can always buy another 16 oz. drink, but at least the message is sent every time that they are being a health-indifferent glutton who contributes to the problem that is eroding the health care budget for everyone else.
  24. Murray B
    Spork, 80 ounces of beer is a lot of maltose and alcohol. You must have high tolerance.

    By limiting each serving to 8 ounces, this forces the beer servers to assess continually whether a patron is inebriated. Serving a drunk patron can result in liability should the patron go driving and kill or maim someone.

  25. Maggan A
    Yeah... government interference on what we eat, drink and smoke is really annoying. Sad to announce the foreign youth who planned a visit in Amsterdam on their European holliday this summer...

    Bying marihuana in the coffeeshops are since a few months only possible for people with a Netherlands passport. The worldfamous liberal Amsterdam where (almost) anything goes is not so liberal anymore...

    Embrace yourself world - this is just the beginning ;-)

  26. Confused
    Perhaps the greatest triumphs of the Bloomberg administration:

    * Banning indoor smoking
    * Raising the cigarette tax substantially, so that a pack is now US$11 there
    * This new soda ban

    New York City has a strong public health program, and a local program (called EIP) whereby tax monies offer insurance support and medical access to poor children. This is a supplement to the New York State Child Health Plus program.

    To curtail the childhood obesity epidemic and save taxpayer dollars, he is acting in a responsible and forward-thinking manner. The new taxes and soda restrictions will go to fund important child health initiatives for the poor.

  27. Bob Johnston
    What aI don't understand about this move is why it's so inconsistent with the other rules Bloomberg has supported regarding health, the food industry and the public. Some of the other things Bloomberg has done is ban smoking from restaurants and bars, required restaurants to post their health inspection scores in their windows and the posting of calorie content on menus. All of these things either are informational so consumers can make wise decisions or in the case of smoking disallows one person's filthy smoke disrupting another person. I don't have an issue with any of these rules. But in this case it's an out and out ban; and not likely to be effective either.Sure soda filled with HFCS is awful stuff but what about all the other crap being sold that's unhealthful? Will Bloomberg shut down bakeries? Will he shut down candy stores? Will people be allowed to buy juicers? Can you go to McDonald's and buy and order of fries? Where exactly is this going to stop when the ban on large sodas isn't effective at combating obesity and chronic disease?

    A problem here is that there's no way to measure the effectiveness of this measure. It seems to me that this is an empty gesture for the appearance of doing something.

  28. Pierre
    Freedom seems to be a lost concept...you have no right to tell me what I may or may not decide to eat or not eat.

    Besides the obvious threat of the same nannies telling us we cannot eat saturated fat is the much bigger issue that this is our freedom we are allowing politicians to steal. Pitiful.

  29. shums
    Doctor I am so dissapointed in you lately. How much of the wonderful LCHF revolution in Sweden can be attributed to government bans and regulations. Probably none of it. Education not regulation. People talk of the true cost associated with the high sugar diet. In the USA we get back to government being at the root of the problem and not the solution. There are severe societal costs associated with many things that are free both in Sweden and the USA. What if the government in Sweden taxed and regulated alcohol consumption a lot more or even banned it. Don't tell me that alcoholism isn't a problem in Sweden just as it is in the USA. Even so I bet you would not be in favor of that move.

    I have no desire to get a big gulp at all and would never drink all that sugar. I must admit though I like the idea that if I wanted to do that I could. It is a freedom thing and it is an important part of our culture. I know that isn't true in Sweden. Sure we may pay a price for that freedom but you also pay a heavy price for the lack of it in Sweden.

    I much prefer to focus on what we have in common though and not where we differ. I have great respect for you and your blog and all your wonderful talks and videos. We disagree on this one but thank you for being here Doctor.

  30. Steve
    Once again... @John Myers

    question:
    Who gets to be arbiter of 'anything that's driving our diseases of civilization'

    answer:
    science

    Current 'science' is telling the US public that saturated fat is bad. I take it you will be fine when they begin charging sin taxes on beef or limiting the amount a restaurant is allowed to serve in a meal? There is simply never a good enough reason for the public to accept any curtailing of freedom no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time. NEVER!

  31. John Myers
    Steve - As I'm sure you know, the science favors LCHF diet. But you're correct - policies like this can cut both ways.
    But this is the proper role of government - level the playing field when things get unbalanced, and in the case of a Western diet things are dangerously unbalanced, and all the evidence from the past 30 years necessitates a government intervention. There's no way we can afford our current future. In the United States the cost of medical insurance goes up in price as much as 30% every year. No sign of that slowing down. Soon it will be more expensive than housing for a family per month. Governments curtail freedom all the time when it's for the greater good. I can't drive drunk. And that's good. I have to stop when the light is red. Seems insignificant, but it certainly limits my freedom - but it's really for the best. This is a "government by the people for the people."
    It's not "every man for himself, if you don't like it, then lump it."
    Your last sentence makes no sense, and the Founding Fathers of the United States would find it ludicrous.
  32. Pierre
    But this is the proper role of government - level the playing field when things get unbalanced, and in the case of a Western diet things are dangerously unbalanced, and all the evidence from the past 30 years necessitates a government intervention.

    The very same argument can be made by folks who would like to ban saturated fats...but that is besides the point. It is none of the government's business what I eat or drink.

  33. Rob
    The majority of people avoid fat and blame it for the obessity epidemic, right or wrong, decades of advertising and health warnings have been drilled into these people's heads and thats what they think. Politicians represent the people so this is very scary ground. Like many others, I am concerned that the next step is to legislate against fat.
  34. Dan
    I absolutely agree that people should drink less sugary beverages. However, I'm not a fan of the government telling businesses what they can or cannot sell. That's a slippery slope. I hope this one gets shot down.
  35. First they came for the Coke; I did not care because I drank diet.
    Then they came for the cheesecake; I did not car because I am lo-carb.
    Then they came for the bacon.
  36. Steve
    And DirtyDan understands.
  37. John Myers
    Corporations are pushing poison - addictive poison - and no one should be allowed to do that.
    The science has been done and we know that sugar is toxic yet the corporations still spread cheap death.
    If they come after my bacon then I would object loudly and they'd never shut me up.
    I'm happy that at least the argument has been raised that sugar is a major problem.
    You're all dirtying your diapers over what-ifs. Come back to the fight at hand.
  38. Steve
    John,

    Corporations are pushing crap because they got on board with the dietary goals for the United States, and its been all down since. This has been an absolute disaster for us, on that we have at least one thing we can likely agree upon. But bottom line, had McGovern not stuck the governments nose were it didn't belong, and where its lack of knowledge was immense we would not be where we are today. You are okay with giving the guilty party an opportunity to right their wrong, and they aren't doing that, they are trying to right a symptom of whats wrong and nothing will be gained so long as we are focused on symptoms.

    If we didn't have Uncle Sam's fingers through the USDA knee deep in every aspect of nutrition, from the scientific study, through production, all the way to our forks we would be able to let science do its job. The reality is because of government intervention in nutrition those who wish to study LCHF as a possible solution cannot even get funded, while we continue to fund one failed fat is bad study after another.

    Please keep government out of this, nothing good happens when they are involved.

  39. C. Buck
    Thanks Steve.
    I think you prove my point.
  40. Steve
    Your point? Whats that, that only an anti-intelectual baboon wouldn't put their faith in government bureaucracy to get it right THIS TIME? Good luck with that.
  41. Some months ago, the Wall Street Journal had an article saying that in the US, courts have a backlog of cases going months or years because of the explosion in legislation. Do we really need to get the courts and police involved in protecting sugar junkies from themselves?

    We tried a similar experiment long ago. Organized crime took off, and thousands died from alcohol that the government poisoned in an effort to scare people away from the stuff.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prohibition_in_the_United_States

  42. John Myers
    Steve
    The science to back the McGovern committee was non-existent at the start. It took 35 years before we had randomized, controlled trials that countered the low fat idea. Mission accomplished? No. But it's better than 1977.
    If the government was not issuing dietary guidelines, then who would be? ADM? Coca Cola? Kraft? Monsanto?
    They will readily fill any gap that emerges. They would chew your food for you if they found it profitable. Corporations get what they want in America, until we push back.
  43. Pierre
    If the government was not issuing dietary guidelines, then who would be? ADM? Coca Cola? Kraft? Monsanto?

    Seriously? You are really puzzled by the answer to that question? The individual of course...my goodness do you have such an overblown opinion of yourself that you believe ONLY you can be allowed to make decisions for yourself?

  44. FrankG
    Government policies ALREADY affect what people eat/drink: be that through the subsidies on corn, social programs, the USDA guidelines, research funds that support the status quo etc...

    For those against Government interventions -- and I share many of your concerns -- are you suggesting that leaving things as they are is better than change?

    If nothing else, this suggested legislation has opened up a flood of discussion on the subject; which I see as a vital part of the education process.

    Contact your representatives, make your views as a voter known, vote with your feet at the checkout. Ultimately we are not powerless to drive changes.

  45. FrankG
    What I meant to say was that: as Government HAS already (and still is) influential in our dietary habits, I don't think it appropriate for them at this stage to just "drop out" and leave everyone to their own devices... that would leave a vacuum.

    Yes drop or reassign the corn subsides (maybe encourage farmers to grow real whole food again) and level the playing field, yes recognise the true unbiased science rather than accepting the authority of so-called "experts", yes use social assistance to help those who may not have the where-with-all to afford access to real whole food at its true market value, and yes free and open discussion + education so that going forward everyone has the opportunity to make up their own minds as to what they choose to eat.

    In my world the Government is made up of elected representatives of us -- the people. If they are self-serving and/or answer only to monied lobby groups then they do not have my permission to speak or act on my behalf.

  46. Funderaren
    The law will not do much, people will find other ways of getting enough sugar for the day. We all know how healthy juice is.

    The problem is that people thinks that fat is bad, and low fat is good. And low fat with sugar is acceptable. And when you count calories sugar has less then fat so even from that perspective its better to drink sodas.

    No revolution in peoples minds are the key.

  47. Ondrej
    This kind of restriction means nothing. We need a simple message. Kinda like former "milk is good and healthy" or "fat is baaad, yes?" campaigns. They must be huge, long term, emotional and simple.
  48. FrankG
    I agree that this legislation may not have too much practical impact -- all too easy to work around as suggested above by having two smaller drinks -- but I think it could still send a positive message in that: it is not sugar that is the problem per se, rather the problem is the amount of it which is being consumed these days.

    It's a start and, for the reason I outlined above, I think it is better than doing nothing. Are Mayor Bloomberg motives purely political or is he genuinely trying to make a difference? Probably a bit of both ;-)

  49. Chuck Currie
    Goooooood Mooooorning LCHFers!

    Here we go again...more utopian fascism.

    This will absolutely change NOTHING.

    I drink X amount of coffee everyday - give or take a small percentage of X. It doesn't matter if I drink it all at one time in a venti mug, or several times during the day in a small cup, I get my coffee fix. Sugary liquid drinkers will do the same - they will just get a little more exercise.

  50. Steve
    'If the government was not issuing dietary guidelines, then who would be? ADM? Coca Cola? Kraft? Monsanto?'

    John, without the backing of the government, dietary guidelines would not carry the weight they otherwise do. If Coca Cola came out with guidelines 90% of the population would simply roll their eyes. On the other hand if Coca Cola through their lobbying were able to get government support of their guidelines, now we have a problem. For all intents and purposes that is where we are at now, our government guidelines are in large part written by lobbyists.

    Look, my issue with these things goes well beyond one simple item. Look at the NC blogger who was censored by the NC dietetics board, in NC it is illegal to give dietary advice not only for hire, but in the course of normal everyday conversation if you aren't licensed. In order to get licensed you have to learn and teach the government backed ideology, not LCHF if that is what you believe. While not often enforced it provides for silencing those not walking the fine line provided for by Uncle Sam.

    When government takes sides and gets it wrong we all pay a high price. You talked earlier of letting science be the arbiter, fine, get politicians out of the game!

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