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Mayor Bloomberg Gets Evidence: Study Finds Smaller Soda Cups Can Cut Obesity Rates

Update Date: Jun 14, 2013 09:48 AM EDT

When New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a ban on cup sizes for sugary drinks, such as soda and juice, he received a lot of criticism for infringing upon a consumer's rights. Mayor Bloomberg's proposal ended up being rejected on March 11 as the Manhattan Supreme Court ruled that the ban was inconsistent with state law. The proposal would have banned stores and restaurants from selling drinks in containers over the size of 16 ounces but it did not have the right to ban the same sized drinks in federal establishments within the city. Now, as Mayor Bloomberg's soda ban is making its way through the State Appeals court, a new study headed by Dr. Claire Wang from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, is reporting that a soda ban could indeed lower obesity rates without targeting any socioeconomic groups.

In this study, the researchers reviewed over 19,000 children and adults who had participated in nutrition surveys. The data was compiled from 2007 to 2010. Based from statistics, the researchers found that people most frequently purchased large sized sugary drinks in restaurants and other public establishments, as opposed to grocery stores. They also found that the majority of people who bought these sizes were overweight or obese as opposed to being normal weight. On top of this, the researchers concluded that a cap on drink sizes could help the youth the most.

The researchers reported that nearly 71 percent of children and 57 percent adults reported drinking at least one sugary drink within the past day. Around seven to eight percent of them actually bought a size larger than 16 ounces. Although people did not buy large drinks that frequently in general, the numbers did show that between 12 and 14 percent of overweight and obese children and teenagers were more likely to buy these larger sized sugary drinks.

"The new study shows that our portion cap rule will likely lead to a decrease in calories consumed, especially among the people who need the help the most - obese and overweight youth," Dr Thomas Farley, the New York City Health Commissioner said, according to the Washington Times.

The researchers also created a scenario in which the people who would have purchased a large drink were forced to buy a 16-ounce cup. They found that the average soda-consuming adult could potentially lose 102 calories from their daily intake. A child would be able to cut 99 calories. Despite these estimations, the researchers acknowledged the fact that some consumers might end up buy two 16-ounce cups as opposed to one, and then they would be consuming a lot more calories than they would before the ban. Since numerous scenarios could occur in the real world, the researchers are not sure if the ban would stop everyone from drinking more, but they do believe that the ban could be useful in curbing obesity.

The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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