No more giant sodas in New York

An important victory against Big Soda and their legions of lobbyists:

NYT: Health Panel Approves Restriction on Sale of Large Sugary Drinks

For any libertarians seriously thinking that this is a loss for “personal freedom”: Anyone needing a massive sugar overdose can easily buy two cups, ok?

Of course, most people will not buy two cups. And avoiding that sugar overdose will improve their health and in the long run it will improve everyone’s economy.


  1. Chuck Currie
    Today it's sugary drinks - tomorrow it will be butter. What will your response be then?

    Government has no place in our kitchens, our farms, our doctor's offices, or our convenience stores. Get government out, and the market will right itself.

    When the healthy are no longer required - at the point of a gun - to subsidize the sick, the sick will either change their ways, or die. Either way, the market for proper nutrition will improve. If you think that is harsh - tyranny is harsher.


  2. The reason that I oppose this sort of nonsense is because government bureaucrats know less than nothing about diet or nutrition, and they get this sort of thing wrong more often than they get it right. On balance, we would all be better off without the government's "help."

    The fact that they got it right this time is a rare and random occurrence. Next, they will limit the amount of fat or protein you can get in one serving. And when those idiot vegans finally succeed in taking over, you won't be allowed to get animal protein of any kind.

  3. Stacy in USA
    The good news is that we New Yorkers can still buy unlimited quantities of alcohol and tobacco. And, with a bit of ingenuity unlimited quantities of dope. I just wish government would do the basic job it was created to do because it's not doing a quality job right now. New Yorkers are leaving the city at an unprecedented level and moving to red states for jobs and economic opportunities.

    Sorry, Doc, but in the bigger picture banning large sodas only shows how petty and incompetent government has become and leads to a growing cynicism and distrust in government. And, long term, that's not a good thing.

    The near bankruptcy of many of our social programs grandly illustrates how it’s not enough to have good intentions (Ancel Keys had good intentions I’m sure). Good policy matters. Banning big sodas isn’t good policy, at least not for Americans who place such a high value on personal choice. It breeds feelings of contempt. Also, not a good thing.

  4. Kevin
    Andreas, if I banned all sugar from your life would you be better off? Of course not, because you don't consume it anyway. Education is the solution (thank you for being awesome at it by the way). Bans and prohibition are more likely to made bacon a black market commodity then provided an real public health benefit. They can still go back to get refills as you point out. And since there will always be a few, let the people who chose to live dangerously do just that. They can decided whether they want to go scuba diving with sharks or drink a Mountain Dew. We should not get so caught-up trying to save people that we forget to respect the choices they make
  5. Doc, I like how you tried to fend off the "libertarian" posts before they started, but it ain't gonna work :) Maybe it is a North American vs Scandinavian mindset? I agree with all the comments which have been posted so far.

    Government regulation is "nice" when it's something you agree with. But for every regulation *you* agree with, there is someone out there who is very much opposed to it. In addition to the super-sized soda ban, regulation has also given us "healthy" school lunch standards, and the requirement that fast food restaurants post calorie counts on their menu boards. *We* know those lunches are terrible, and that calorie-counting doesn't work, not to mention that decades of nutrition information displayed on packaging has done nothing to curb obesity. Yet government is all too eager to lend an ear to special interests at the expense of voices of reason.

    The truth is, Doc, that government is a shotgun when it comes to regulation like this. Sometimes it gets things right, but most of the time it just ends up making the problem worse or causing altogether new problems. Best to keep government out of nutrition (and nutrition research!) entirely.

    I'm sure you've read Tom Naughton's insightful discussion on these regulations, but in case not, for your reading pleasure:

    Super sized soda ban:

    School lunch nonsense:

    Calorie counts on menu boards:

    "The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. "
    - Robert A. Heinlein

  6. pierre
    Lauding this as a victory is about as shortsighted as can is no wonder that Europe constantly finds itself besieged by foolishness and terror with this sort of anti freedom thinking.

    "Forget conservative or liberal, Tory or Labor; there are only two types of people in the world, those who would control the actions of others, and those who have no such desire" - Robert A. Heinlein

    Seems that Europeans don't have any understanding of personal freedom...darn shame.

    Reply: #37
  7. The problem I have with it is me and mi Wifey Walk every were(5 miles a day).We stop and buy drinks at the local stripes they have 64 oz cups for like 1.89 with tax.I get unsweetened fresh brewed Ice tea.This is how I keep from over heating because in Corpus Christi Texas it is over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) If we had to buy more smaller drinks this would cost us more money and make us stop more frequently if they started that in this neck of the woods.Also my Wifey gets water as well in those Big cups as well as I use the same cup forever and just get refills or add tea from my house.They don't just sell Sugary sodas in large cups.

    I agree American is the stupidest nation in the world they will be taxing Fatty meat,Butter,Cheese and Cream next if they are allowed to continue this type of food enforcement.

    We need them to admit they are wrong about how they are telling people that Saturated fat is bad and grains are good.They need to admit the food pyramid is killing people.Then I will be happy.We need to have a movement here of LCHF.

  8. "Big Soda" only *exists* because the government is in the business of telling businesses how they can operate. Heck, the U.S. government ultimately *sets the price of sugar* due to corn subsidies, import duties and quotas on sugar, etc. etc. etc. Almost all commodities are in exactly the same situation.

    We probably wouldn't even HAVE the enormous amount of "cheap" sugar we do if it weren't for those same subsidies. The same goes for grains, while the price of, say, meat is artificially high due to incredible restrictions on feeding, transport, butchering, and sale. Heck, I can't even raise some chickens or goats in my backyard (where there is MORE THAN ENOUGH room) due to noise regulations. *Nobody* knows what prices and availability would actually look like in a free market because we've never had one, and if people keep lauding restrictions they happen to approve of while ignoring the greater consequences down the line all we're going to get is more of the same rubbish.

    As other posters have said, yeah, it looks great when they ban something YOU don't like. What happens when they ban something you DO like? What happens when they ban something YOU can't live happily without?

    And if your answer is, "I'll just go to Washington and lobby for what I want", guess what? Now you're Big Fat, and now you have a VESTED INTEREST in promoting fat regardless of what future information comes along. Lobbying ought to consist of trying to convince individuals that X is in their best interests, not trying to convince government to impose X regardless of individual choice. Bottom-up. Not top-down.

  9. Daniel FE
    anyone find it funny, that the same people that block "giant" sodas from being sold are the same people that are in favor of abortion?

    its like " you have control of your own body, excpt when it comes to drinking soda"

  10. Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, MD Team Diet Doctor
    Let's just agree to disagree guys! ;)
  11. Evinx
    Sorry Doc - but this is a BAD idea. Other posters have hit many of the reasons it is a horrible abuse of govt power.
    Funny, the US Govt had repeatedly stated that we fight in Afghanistan + Irag to "win the hearts and minds" and that is ultimately the ONLY path to victory and our safety.
    Yet, when it comes to food, winning the hearts and minds goes out the window and the heavy hand of govt coercion is fine. NOT FINE.
    One needs to justify both the means AND the ends -- not just the ends (which you did Doc).
    Nevertheless, we appreciate all you do and thank you for your great website and interviews.
  12. Instead of ban, I would set higher taxes for each product that contains more than 10gr of sugars per 100gr or trans-fats or hidrogenized fats :)
  13. Chuck Currie
    Sorry, Milos, but taxes are just more government intervention where government does not belong. And, let's remember that it wasn't that long ago that government was pushing trans-fats and hydrogenated fats over coconut, palm and other natural saturated fats - and they're still pushing processed seed oils over the above.

    Everything the government taxes is to benefit/favor one over another; it's never in our best interest.

  14. Evinx
    Milos - why would you think giving the govt more money is a good thing? Has govt shown you they know how to spend wisely? All it did with cigarette monies is increase govt spending and power. Is that what you really advocate for?
  15. Troy Wynn
    Sad Day for those of us that believe in liberty. Freeeeeeeeeeeedooooooooooooom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No man should hold dominion over another mans private life. That is what we have here.
  16. Wolfstriked
    I live in NYC and can tell you that everytime I enter a 7eleven I see people buying these huge gallon sized sodas.That said,this is a free country and I feel they should of worked this law better.For me to see this work I would of put it at 16oz soda limit for anyone under 18.

    That to me seems a better way to try to force people to drink less soda.The best way though is to make a huge TV ad campaign that shows skinny people drinking water and steering clear of sodas while also showing obese people drinking soda.Shock em constantly with tv and poster ads to the dangers of sugar and let the people make their own judgements.

  17. Steve
    "Let's just agree to disagree guys!"

    Doc, thats a weak reply, how 'bout answering Chuck Currie's question, what will your opinion be when the do the same or worse with butter? Its a relavent question as most consider butter, and other saturated fats to be as unhealthy, or even more so then sugar.

    No more hiding Doc, how do you justify it?

  18. Dorian
    Personally, if they limit me to 16 ounces of a butter at a time, I think I'd be all right... ;-)
  19. Jim E
    This famous quotation applies here:

    First they came for the socialists,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

    Then they came for me,
    and there was no one left to speak for me.

    Whatever minor benefit may be gained by banning large sodas is trivial in comparison to the harm caused by giving government more power over our lives.


  20. Carl
    We can't be for FOR the food police when they bust someone for selling big sodas and AGAINST them when they bust someone for selling raw milk or uninspected grass fed beef.

    It's too easy to think just because we happen to be ok with this specific targeting of sugar, that's its somehow a 'win' for our cause. Completely WRONG! Remember, this is the same government that gave us SAD, grain subsidies, and the food police. We CANNOT stand for this, regardless of our stance on sugar. ITS ABOUT FREEDOM, NOT SUGAR!!!!

  21. Steve
    I'm happy to see so much common sense on this subject outside of the good Doc's opinion!! ;)

    I find it very hard to accept such ideas, especially coming from a LCHF community in which we all fully understand we are living outside of the conventional wisdom of our day. That simple fact makes those things we hold dear very much open to the same type of misguided logic that is in effect in NY with the large soda ban.

    You can lead the obese to a smaller sugared beverage, but you cannot make them healthy doing so while also continuing to promote a flawed dietary approach to health and weight management.

    Doc, I'm still awaiting your reply to Mr.Currie!

  22. Troy Wynn
    God, I love you Patriots!!
  23. HellCat
    I wish it would only be swedes that put “personal freedom” in scare quotes but it is sadly a wide spread fenonomen. The ban against soda is only fist step, soon it will be against fat, red meat and salt. If so, be sure to enjoy it as well, doc.
  24. HighlySkeptical
    Absolutely can't wait to return to Europe, where there's more common sense about the cost of health burdens to the tax base. These libertarians who claim to live the USA will only bankrupt it as the cost of the diabetes epidemic soars.
  25. PeaknikMicki
    Sometimes even governments can get it right but most f the time they don't.
    And if we accept laws such as the soda-ban then what's next?
    Law that all kids must have all kinds of vaccinations? Laws that force everyone to eat 6 to 8 slices of bread every day (that was the recommended intake in sweden not too long ago)
    The list just goes on. And like they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
    If I was in the US I would stand up against a law such as this even if I am not a soda drinker.
  26. One of the root causes of the obesity epidemic is government bureaucrats (e.g., George McGovern) who know less than nothing about nutrition.

    The cure is NOT more of what caused the problem.

  27. peaknikmicki
    Well said Howard.
    I wonder what the diet doctor has to say when they try to ban saturated fat, which there already has been debate about in several countries. Either you allow the government to meddle in these things or you don't.
    I think Jefferson summed up my own position on this pretty well. "“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.""
  28. grinch031
    As much as I think people should put down the soda, this sets a bad, bad precedent. The government needs to stay out of people's lives and find more creative ways to encourage healthy lifestyles.
  29. Stan
    Well, I'll give some balance here, since Doc seems outnumbered and the elephant in the room is flailing his trunk wanting to be heard.

    The Libertarians would insist that individual freedom in this soda rights (and other liberties) is paramount to a free-market sans government interference. In the freedom of choice regarding ignorant food consumption--one's poor eating habits (sometimes not by choice, but economics/availability) become society's problem eventually.

    Consider, then the national security threat these sick citizens have and are becoming for our very survival as a military-economic sovereignty. Are we to assume that all these freedom-to- indulge-my-exercised-rights-folks believe it all sorts out evenly after the dust settles?

    A lot like the trickle down wealth hypothesis, that maintains wealthier interests always do the right thing and dutifully create jobs for the general welfare.

    Corporate freedom to misinform your children through crass advertising lies with the government partnership protecting them. The lobbyists will fight any grass roots advocacy against these ad messages because corporate interests sell poison--it's their bottom line--you know--FREE MARKET.

  30. Evinx
    OK, here's the Final Jeopardy question:
    Who is behind the Food Pyramid pushing all those carbs?
  31. I figured all the US libertarian LC/Paleo people whould go ballistic over this post. The good news is that correlation does not prove causation. As appaerent here in Scandinavia you cant be on a LCHF diet without risking becoming a liberterian and a tin foil hat Ron Paul activist.

    #30 Evinx. The correct Jeopardy answer is the Swede, Anna-Britt Agnsäter (1915-2006) who invented the Food Pyramid in 1974. In relation to the libertarian discussion it is intresting to note that Agnsäter represented COOP, on of the leading Swedish food retailers. An interesting fact is that the Food Pyramid was never adopted by the government in Sweden (the Swedish Food Administration). So the government did not invent the Food Pyramid, it was a private inititive (or cooperative).

    About 18 years later the USDA adopted the Food Pyramid. And now all you US libertarians out there... don't you come and tell me you don't get value for your tax money. After years and millons spent the USDA added one moore floor (4 instead of 3) to the original Swedish Food Pyramid ;-)

  32. chilisalsa
    I frankly love this initiative,,,
    Less sugar, everyone agrees..

    Some says that the next thing is fat-regulation. I personally haven't a problem with that. Even though It may be seen as contraproductive and wrong at first.

    Peauple would be eating less energy and will be less overweight, most certinally. For us that have a clue in the field of nutrition it´s not much of a problem, I think because we are readily happy to pay for that extra nutricious extra fat. The amount of fat that would be consumed in that case, would probably be the kinds of fats that aren't good fats anyway, which would be a god thing healtways in the population in US and in the rest of the world for that matters...

  33. Jenny
    Wow! So glad I live in Australia!!! I teach Food Technology, I gave my students the Australian Dietary Guidelines (stupid carb heavy nonsense) as required by the syllabus and also gave them the nourishing hope pyramid (paleo compatible) and we watched Andreas' talk from AHS 2011. Lots of interesting discussion!
  34. Frank
    A lot of the "analyses" below miss the point of the regulation. While I agree the Government ("USG") should not intervene without compelling reason or circumstance, I believe there is a compelling reason or circumstance to do so. You will not find a single CREDIBLE medical expert that says sugar-laden drinks are bettering the health and wellness of Americans. In fact, since consumption of sugar has risen, diabetes has risen ( [Admittedly, this is correlation; but compelling correlation nonetheless].

    Why, then, intervene? Because an exponential increase in diabetics means an exponential increase in curtailing the epidemic (i.e. healthcare costs, prescription drug costs). These factors adversely affect the government's budget. When they rise to the degree that they have, the government (in turn) is compelled to tax the public - an action the self-proclaimed "libertarians" oppose.

    The USG has attempted to let the market "cure itself" for thirty years. The situation has worsened only hastening our economic decline and making any (re-)action by the USG more necessary and drastic.

    There is a lot of confusion about the nature of the "market". An economic market is a socially-constructed mechanism of exchange. As a social construction, it is susceptible to manipulation and error because societies are imperfect. Soda drinking is an imperfect habit of Americans. The market won't rid the behavior especially when financial incentives by the Sugar Industry make its continued consumption more attractive. As time goes by, these mis-incentives escalate the cost associated with de-toxing and repairing our society from its "sugar binge".

    I am a student of economic theory (BA, MS, and MBA). I know the matter better than most. I have heard the Neo-Liberal argument for government inaction repeatedly. If the process was a single iterative one, Libertarians would likely be correct. However, the process is multi-iterartive; meaning that minor disequilibria continue to escalate and magnify. In this case, what seems to be the net cost of intervention seems minor until you extrapolate the costs of inaction over time. This is what we, as Americans, are dealing with today.

    Thank you, Dr. E for championing healthy eating. More importantly, thanks for understanding the dynamics (and unfortunate imperfections) of the "market".

    Kudos to Bloomberg!

  35. nostents4me!
    When I was "up for stenting" 7 years ago I spent a week+ in a large hospital ward with others awaiting investigations and potential heart procedures. I noticed often big soda bottles nearby and one day I walked through and found that 1-litre bottles of coke or seven-up, etc. were on every single bedside locker! About 60% were obese and 100% had heart problems...
    Only observational correlation though, so no conclusions can be drawn...

    Of course they would have consumed less with smaller bottles, but we all thought is was "good energy" especially needed for us sick!
    There may well come a time to ban sugar laden drinks in hospital wards as well, but we have not yet understood HOW bad they are for the sick. Wait a while!

    BTW, I declined heart stenting as to me this "clogged pipe expansion procedure" seemed at best a highly temporary solution often requiring follow up stents and eventual bypass, yet offered nothing to address the cause of my at the time rapidly progressing decline.

    Years later - with much suffering in between- , within only one month on strict LCHF, something gradually changed inside me and now 8 months later I am in greater form than ever, and on NIL medication. I am fitter than 10 years before my disease! I Will write more later of why LCHF was so effective to reverse my "irreversible" angina, and why it plausibly works for most, the way I see it!

  36. aniram
    Some previous posters sound like they are talking about banning sweet drinks, when all it is is a regulation of portion size. People can still drink as much as they want. A better start would probably be to remove government subsidies on sugar and corn, but this is not the US government doing something, it's the mayor of NY. I think it's fantastic to see some kind of acknowledgement from officials that sugar is part of the problem when it comes to obesity and that this really is a societal problem that has to be dealt with. One its own the NY ban won't have much effect, but hopefully it will lead to both more debate and action.
  37. Pierre, whatever you think of Andreas's views, I think it would be better not to assume that all Europeans share the same position about issues like this. Making generalisations about the views of people in any area (whether it be Albania, Alabama or Andreas's hometown) is rarely justified, but to do so about the hundreds of millions of people spread all over the culturally diverse continent of Europe seems particularly unfair.

    Also, I would never think of Europe as being "constantly... besieged by foolishness and terror"! I suppose we Europeans are guilty of our share of foolishness, and perhaps there are places somewhere in Europe where people feel constantly terrorised, but on the whole this is a wonderful place to be.

  38. Marcy
    This ban will do nothing. People that want to kill themselves with copious amounts of sugar will find a way to do so the same way non-prescription drugs are illegal, but people that want to use them find a way to get them.
  39. Bill
    Kudos to Bloomberg for taking this mostly symbolic step against sugar beverages. I have to agree with aniram above, about a better path being to dump the grain subsidies. A classic case of capitalism in cahoots with government, to the detriment of the population at large.

    To the libertarians, who think government involvement is evil, it seems like there is no group memory further back than about 1950. OK, everyone, repeat after me: robber labor laws...economic fuedalism by the rich and powerful, or whoever can wield the most political influence or buy the most thugs. Lets face it: capitalism is not paleo, nor is its opposite number, bureaucratic government. So when you have a pathological social system based around money, you better have an offsetting force; most regulations really do serve to protect people against exploitation or domination by others. The childish notion of an Ayn Randish minimalistic government that only enforces contracts but otherwise keeps its nose out of the 'free' market is an absurdist fantasy rooted in naivete about human nature. I can respect the anti-authoritarian stance of Libertarians, but take away 'government regulation' and see how much freer you remain, under a regime where "money talks, bullshit walks."

  40. Milla
    Pierre #6 "Seems that Europeans don't have any understanding of personal freedom...darn shame." How did you arrive at this conclusion from reading one persons opinion on the New York ban on large sugary drinks? Last I checked NYC was still in America...
  41. I agree that the government has no place in making food choices for us. I would say though that the good Doctor has not had the benefit of growing up in a country like America where freedom and personal choice is so cherished. Sweden is very different and has a very powerful central government. That concept in Europe but in Sweden especially is thought to be superior. I can agree there are some small benefits to having a large central government I think the cost is very high. So the concept of government telling you that you can't buy a soda of a certain size is just accepted in a place like Sweden and often without any question. If that is what they want then fine. I am myself opposed to importing that thought to this country and I feel that food may well be the next big battle ground. Do I want to eat sugar, corn syrup and wheat? No I don't but I will defend someone's right to do so because today it is those things and tomorrow it is saturated fat or whatever else someone who has power over me deems to be bad for me right or wrong. Oh and yes that is already happening in Europe but they chose security over freedom long ago. So let's be nice to the Doctor because it is the culture in which he grew up. Sweden is a great country and they are our good friends but let's also thank them to keep their government ideas in Sweden or at least on the other side of the Atlantic. Oh and shame on you NYC.
  42. Milla
    Shums: You really shouldn't make assumptions about the rest of Sweden and the supposed reasons behind our supposed support for the New York ban on sodas. I am not aware of any place other than NY banning large sugary drinks. Trust me, any attempt to regulate what you can buy in stores or restaurants would certainly not be "accepted without question anywhere in Europe". Most countries in Europe have very liberal laws enabling personal freedom compared to US federal law (drugs, abortion, gay marriage, free colleges, the right to recieve healthcare etc). One could easily make a good argument that higher taxes and the services provided by government.makes it easier to live the life you choose. But since the chance of anyone ever changing their political mindset from reading something in a blog comment is infinitely small I won't even bother.But we can agree on one thing. Shame on you NYC.
  43. Sarah
    Milla said:

    " Most countries in Europe have very liberal laws enabling personal freedom compared to US federal law (drugs, abortion, gay marriage, free colleges, the right to recieve healthcare etc). One could easily make a good argument that higher taxes and the services provided by government.makes it easier to live the life you choose. "

    At the expense of others. That is not freedom.

  44. Juvenall
    "For any libertarians seriously thinking that this is a loss for “personal freedom”: Anyone needing a massive sugar overdose can easily buy two cups, ok?"

    ...which is exactly why this is just silly legislation. It solves the problem like bailing out water from a sinking rowboat does. This isn't a win for anyone.

  45. ROBERT
    McGovern was an advocate and believer in the adage, "Don't rattle the cage." His idea of diet was whatever his wife put in front of him or those who served meals for politicians here and there. Insofar as having any knowledge of nourishing diets, he knew nothing. Too bad, he had such a detrimental influence on what happened after being the lead in demonizing meat and dairy. Senators who don't know anything other than to blabber are a detriment. George McGovern wasn't a bad man just a well meaning ignorant politician asked to chair something he wasn't qualified to chair.
  46. Tim
    This demonstrates, and expands, the learned helplessness of a population who must have someone hold their hand so they don't drink too much soda.
    Take control of your own health, those who wish to take that control away seldom have your best interests at heart.

    This is the usual virtue signaling, being seen to do something while doing very little.

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