For New York residents, worrying about whether or not behemoth cups of soft drink will fit in their cars’ cup holders is no longer an issue; the term “supersize it” is a term of the past.
A health ban imposed by officials in the nation’s most populated city forbids food-service licensed establishments from selling sodas and other sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces. The new regulations have been introduced in hopes of combating health issues throughout the city.
But will limiting the size of soft drinks actually help solve the problem of New Yorkers’ dietary habits? And what implications could this have for the rest of the nation?
According to a Sept. 13, 2012 Huffington Post article, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is confident the new regulations will lead his city’s citizens to make to healthier life style choices. Some Kansas-based New Yorkers, however, think it won’t change anything.
Matt Marchesini, K-State admissions representative and New York native, said he doesn’t think the ban will have any impact, and that it is just another step following previous health regulations in the Big Apple.
“I don’t necessarily think it will work. I think people will find a way around it,” Marchesini said. “New York tends to be the first to adopt new health-related requirements. They were the first to start putting calorie counts on menus. It’ll be interesting to see what will happen in the next year or so.”
New York City is the first U.S. city to institute a regulation on portion size for soft drinks. It was also the first city to ban trans-fat in food restaurants in 2007, which has since spread to other parts of the country. According to a June 2012 article on CNN.com, the ban lowered the amount of trans-fat in the average fast-food meal from about 3 grams to about 0.5 grams.
The new ban on beverage sizes can also potentially hurt businesses by limiting their menu and ability to make a profit. Typically, customers who would pay an extra fee for a larger cup size in the past no longer have that option. This can result in less profit.
Lauren Boline, sophomore in dietetics, said she doesn’t think the ban will be effective in ending the obesity epidemic, but that restaurants should be willing to sacrifice a small profit if it means benefiting the public good.
“I don’t think banning certain pop sizes will have a huge effect. Most places have free refills, so people can drink just as much pop as they want anyways,” Boline said. “If it’s something that can actually end up benefiting people nutrition-wise, I think restaurants should be willing to sacrifice a few dollars to help the public’s health.”
Consumers are still allowed to purchase multiple soft drinks at restaurants as long as each individual container doesn’t surpass the 16-ounce limit. Violations will result in a $200 fine for businesses. Retailers were given nine months from when it was enacted last June to follow the guidelines.
While Kansas has no law limiting the size of beverage cups at restaurants, other restaurant trends are coming to the wheat state. In September 2012, the New York Daily News reported that McDonalds began implementing a measure to post calorie counts in all of their over 14,000 restaurants in the U.S.—meaning all Kansas McDonalds have, or will soon have, calorie counts posted.
While the smaller sized soft drinks will force consumers to go to extra lengths if they wish to continue drinking copious amounts of soda, Karen Hanson, registered and licensed dietician at Hy-Vee, thinks education is they key to encouraging healthy eating habits.
“I think it all needs to start with education on portion control,” Hanson said. “We need to educate the public on sizes and sugar content. Many people have no idea what a normal portion size is now.”