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Drink Downsizing: Is the Proposed NYC Soda Ban a Good Thing?

Drink Downsizing: Is the Proposed NYC Soda Ban a Good Thing?

Without a doubt, the consumption of sugary soda drinks is a major contributing factor to what is deemed as our current “obesity epidemic.” And when you consider consumers are routinely buying such sodas in epic proportions, like the ever-popular Big Gulp sold at 7-Eleven, you start gathering a keen understanding as to why we are fighting this losing battle against obesity. To give you a sense of what a 44 oz Big Gulp consists of, here is a breakdown: with 6 oz of ice and approximately 38 oz of soda, you are looking at about 128 grams of sugar and about 512 calories from a drink that most people consume within an hour. This is about one-fourth of your suggested daily caloric intake, and it greatly exceeds what is advisable for sugar intake (adults should not exceed 40 grams of sugar in a 24-hour period). So any sober reflection and/or action on curbing such excessive consumption should be welcomed.

Well New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made a bold, but clearly nearsighted, proposal to ban restaurants, delis and movie theaters from serving large cups of soda and other sugary drinks in anything larger than a 16-ounce cup. Under this proposed ban, if you want something larger than a reasonably sized 16-ounce cup of soda (this size used to be considered “large” back in the day) consumers will need to purchase two, or more, cups of their favorite sugary drink. The ban would impose a 16-ounce limit on any sugary bottled or fountain drinks that contain more than 25 calories per 8 ounces. Diet soda would not be affected by the ban, and any drink that is at least half milk or milk substitute would be exempt (this means fans of massive Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccinos are safe – for now). Predictably, people who profit off these drinks (which have a hugely high mark up) are none too pleased by the proposal. Neither are the masses of big gulpers who love to nurse their half gallons of soda all day long.

As much as I would love to see soda become an infrequent indulgence for all, and as much as I feel it is the cause for a lot of our domestic health problems, I can’t really stand up and support Bloomberg on this particular tactic. By requiring consumers to buy more cups (thus creating more trash and resentment) you are not imparting any true lesson or perspective on the drinking masses, you are only creating complications. Even John Stewart joked about Bloomberg’s proposal and said, “It combines the Draconian government overreach people love with the probable lack of results they expect!”

Can you get behind such a proposal or do you find it too paternalistic? Do you think going the route of education would yield better results? How can we get people to curb their thirst for sodas that are obviously doing harm to the nation?

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.


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7:24AM PST on Feb 15, 2013

At least one way of trying to change something, not the best as it will create more trash, because srsly ppl are too stupid to fully embrace that it means 'we sell it in small portion because you shouldn't have more per day'. But then again, ppl are told multiple times over that smokes and soda are bad and CAUSE cancer and they still buy it and use what do you expect....

4:47PM PST on Feb 1, 2013

This is not something that George Washington or our founding fathers would want. Alcohol can be worse than soda and there's not a drinking limit to alcohol. I agree that cigarettes should be illegal. Soad we don't get drunk or pollute the air to breathe in.

4:06PM PST on Nov 26, 2012

Would be good though!

9:47AM PDT on Sep 25, 2012

Absolutely NOT A GOOD OR JUST IDEA!!! I am hoping the ban proposed by a public servant, Bloomberg, is banned by the public and that government is banned from our choices for good... Sounds undemocratic & more communistic, health reasons or not; humans choices, not government!!!!!

5:49PM PDT on Sep 11, 2012


5:38PM PDT on Sep 11, 2012

NO, not a good idea. Stop trying to control everything.

2:25AM PDT on Aug 18, 2012

Thank you.

2:25AM PDT on Aug 18, 2012

Thank you.

8:23AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

People do have to take some responsibility for their own actions without someone standing over than and acting as Guardian...those determined enough to get that extra fill of soda will just order extra and add to the waste and pollution of extra cups for the land fills of New York or where ever.

If soda is bad enough...what next? Perhaps the government should ban restaurants from serving more than say, two drinks per customer at a bar for one evening. Alcohol after all can be very toxic to the liver! Look at all the social problems, health troubles, punch outs this stuff causes. Or limit how many packs per month a cigarette smoker can purchase.

At home I drink ginger ale, but dilute it by mixing it with home made ginger tea from either tea bags or cut up ginger root and it takes me longer to get through the actual 2 litre bottle of ginger ale in my fridge by doing this. The container lasts for quite awhile!

Never heard of Big Gulp while 7-Eleven or whatever is not in my town. Obviously kids drink more of the stuff than we did when I grew up in the sixties but adding more waste and pollution is not much of a solution either.

We could try and (good luck) get rid of a lot of the highly processed/foods pumped with antibiotics/dyes/pesticides by eating organic but there is a lot of crud out there.

10:37AM PDT on Jun 29, 2012

“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.”

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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