How Many Calories Would The NYC-Soda Ban Save?

By Amir Khan on July 25, 2012 9:47 AM EDT

Soda Drinks
The controversial soda ban in New York City is billed as a way to help curb the obesity epidemic, but just how many calories will it actually save? (Photo: Reuters)

The controversial soda ban in New York City is billed as a way to help curb the obesity epidemic, but just how many calories will it actually save? Researchers found that while the soda ban can have a large effect, a substantial amount of New Yorkers would have to change their drinking habits to make the ban worthwhile.

"Obesity is a nationwide problem, and all over the U.S., public health officials are wringing their hands saying, 'Oh, this is terrible,'" Mayor Bloomberg told the New York Times when he first announced the potential ban. "New York City is not about wringing your hands; it's about doing something. I think that's what the public wants the mayor to do."

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The ban would restrict the sale of sodas to no more than 16-ounces, and would apply to both fountain and bottled drinks. It would not apply to diet sodas, fruit juices, dairy or alcoholic drinks. Sodas sold at grocery and convenience stores would be exempt as well. Establishments that skirt the ban would face a $200 fine.

Researchers from the New York University School of Medicine analyzed the information from more than 1,600 receipts from consumers who ate at fast-food restaurants in New York City, Newark, N.J., Philadelphia and Baltimore. They found that 62 percent of all beverages purchased would be affected by the ban and that people consumed an average of 200 calories from sugar-sweetened beverages.

If everyone who purchased a larger sized drink switched to a 16-oz drink instead, the average caloric intake would drop by 63 calories per meal. If 40 percent switched, consumption would drop by 10 calories. There would be no change in 30 percent switched.

It appears, however, that the ban would have a sizeable effect, researchers said.

"In most but not all of our simulations, the policy appears to be associated with a decrease in calories from sugar-sweetened beverages purchased at fast-food restaurants," the researchers said, according to LiveScience.

The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Monday. 

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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