New York City Health Board Caps Soda Serving Sizes

Statement of CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson

September 13, 2012

New York City Mayor Bloomberg has ignited an important national conversation about out-of-control serving sizes for—and consumption of—soda and other sugary drinks. We are gratified that the city’s Board of Health voted to cap serving sizes of sugary drinks sold at the restaurants and other food vendors it regulates to 16 ounces, as the Mayor proposed.

It is the responsibility of city and state health departments to prevent disease. And to make a dent in expensive and debilitating conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems, it makes perfect sense to act to discourage and reduce soda consumption. Soda and other sugary drinks are the single biggest source of calories in the American diet and provide nothing of value, only empty calories from high fructose corn syrup or other sugars and a bunch of other questionable chemicals. Yet what was once a rare treat is now basically the default drink, especially for youths. One chain is even marketing soda specifically as a breakfast beverage! And the standard 12-ounce can, itself a replacement for 6.5- or 10-ounce bottles—is increasingly being supplanted by 16- or 20-ounce bottles, or 32- or even 64-ounce tubs.

No one misses the partially hydrogenated oil or stink of cigarettes Mayor Bloomberg dispatched from New York City restaurants. And very few are really going to miss quart-sized soda servings despite the professionally manufactured outrage from soda-industry front groups.

I hope that New York's action emboldens other health departments and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to limit serving sizes and use other measures to reduce consumption.


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