A day after
The study, conducted by researchers at
The research was published Wednesday in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Among patrons of food-service establishments who would normally buy a sweetened soda in a container larger than 18 oounces, the researchers explored the effect of a variety of consumer responses to the portion ban, ranging from the wholly compliant to the completely defiant. In a scenario they suggested might be most realistic, the researchers presumed that 80% of consumers would respond to the portion-control measure by buying a 16-ounce drink instead. The remaining 20% would purchase two 16-ounce drinks, an end-run that would result in more calories consumed.
If such a cap were to extend across the country -- an unlikely prospect -- and 80% of consumers responded to it by buying smaller drinks, the researchers projected that each American child would reduce his or her daily caloric intake by an average of 6.9 calories, with an average 6.3-calorie daily reduction for every American man and woman.
Past research has established that overweight and obese Americans are more likely than normal-weight consumers to buy and consume super-sized sweetened drinks in food-service establishments. Consequently, the average daily calorie reduction among the overweight and obese -- 4.8 calories for adults and children alike -- would be greater than those among Americans of normal weight. Such adults would take in an average of 4.2 fewer calories daily, and children would take in on average 3.3 fewer calories daily.
At the same time, the finding that low-income consumers pared about the same number of calories from their daily intake as those with higher incomes may undermine an argument mustered by many opponents of soda restrictions or taxes: that such measures restrict poor people's choices but not those of higher-income consumers.
Gus K. West, president of the Washington-based Hispanic Institute, says it's time for that argument to lose its power anyway. In low-income communities and Latino communities disproportionately affected by
"We believe overall, the community as a whole is going to benefit more than be negatively affected. We don't believe they've demonstrated the store owners are going to really suffer any hardship, and there's no evidence to prove that low-income consumers are going to turn around and buy another portion. We don't buy that argument."
On Tuesday, New York City health officials appeared in court to appeal a judge's decision to strike down Bloomberg's proposed cap on sodas sold in the city's food establishments, snack bars and sports venues. City attorney Fay Ng defended the rule's scientific and legal underpinnings, arguing not only that it would improve New Yorkers' health, but also that it did not overreach the city's legal powers.