Bloomberg Bans Big Gulps

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  • 05/31/2012
According to stories that will run in the NY Times and NY Post:

“The health department/City Hall will tomorrow propose that any location that gets a restaurant letter grade will be barred from selling sugar-sweetened beverages over 16 ounces. This would also apply to food trucks.”

And here’s something from the NYC Fox affiliate:

“Get ready to sell smaller containers of soda and other sweetened drinks. The obesity task force with the New York City Department of Health is ready to recommend that containers for sweetened beverages be limited to 16 ounces. The rule would affect drinks sold at delis, fast-food franchises, sports arenas, and sidewalk carts. Anyone who violates the regulation would be fined $200 for every sale.”

I can’t wait for the first 7-11 sting to stop the sale of Big Gulps, the undercover operation to the illegal sale of Mountain Dew refills at movie theaters and the Gatorade bodega/salad bar busts designed to break up multiple bottle sales. 

It would also apply to those souvenir soft drink cups at Yankee Stadium, CitiField and Madison Square Garden.   But not the 24 ounce beer cups.  (As we all know, beer does NOT add weight.)

Or jumbo sno-cones.  (I think.)  Or coffee with lots of sugar and cream.   Then again, will we be allowed to add sugar to our beverages?  

I am sure some people actually care if such a regulation will – as Bloomberg claims – reduce obesity.  It really doesn’t matter.    If obesity rates  (using the unreliable measure of Body Mass Index) remain essentially unchanged in The Big Apple(and the have not really budged since 2005 ) since the Mayor started his crack down on sugar and soft drinks  ( the consumption of the latter also remains essentially flat) then it will be argued that the assault on serving size is critical.   

If Bloomberg claims (incorrectly) – as he has– that the subway ads linking soft drinks to morbid obesity and a ban on soda sales in schools have reduced obesity (and they have not) then a container size crackdown will lead to even greater gains, I mean losses.    In fact, sweetened beverage consumption has declined nationwide over the past few years.   Do we really know why?  No.    Does it have any affect on health?  No one knows.   Are NYC statistics on sweetend-beverage consumption reliable.   The data is based on self-reported consumption.   For all we know, all the kvetching about soft drinks is just making people lie.. as in telling those conducting surveys what they think they want to know.   But who cares?  And who in the media has ever looked at the data apart from using it to restate the narrative of evil corporations poisoning our kids.   So much for the media being more careful reporting statistics and science after perpetuating the Wakefield vaccine fakery.

We have arrived at this silly place in public policy because the operators of the Nanny State and the media willingly accept the spurious correlation between soda consumption and obesity because it reaffirms pre-existing biases.  These biases are reinforced by sloppy “studies” that associate watching TV with drinking soft drinks and both with obesity.    Next thing you know NYC is running ads linking soda to leg amputation.

Nagging –  by our parents or a billionaire baby sitter with too much time – and one term too many – on his hands has never produced changes in habits, especially eating, drinking and exercise.   People – especially in NYC – will find a way to chow and slurp down what they want, when they want. 

Which they will.  After they stop laughing and ridiculing the latest Bloomberg effort.


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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