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Topics Homepage> The U.S. should adopt the NYC sugary drink ban.

The U.S. should adopt the NYC sugary drink ban.

PRO (3 assertions)


The LA Times states, "It is not Bloomberg's responsibility to tell people what they should and should not be drinking, despite any negative consequences that may be associated with it."

1. Assertion: Mayor Bloomberg's past plans have been effective.

Evidence:In 2005, Mayor Bloomberg initiated the ban of trans fats at all restaurants with the city limits. A NYC Health Department study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in July this year revealed that in as little as two years after the regulation was implemented in 2007 it had made considerable headway in ridding New Yorkers' diets of damaging amounts of trans fats and potentially curbing the incidence of heart disease in the metropolis. An analysis of 6,969 receipts collected from fast food chains including Burger King, Subway, Pizza Hut and McDonald's in 2007, found that the average fast food meal in that year contained 2.9 grams of trans fat. In comparison, a scrutiny of 7,885 receipts from the establishments from 2009 found that the figure had slipped to 0.5 grams – an amount the FDA considers negligible.” The American Heart Association recommends limiting trans fat, a leading cause of heart disease, to less than 2 grams a day. An even bigger victory for Bloomberg is the fact that some chains including McDonalds have gone so far as to ban trans fat in their nationwide. Contrary to the fears of opponents to the regulation, eateries didn't simply replace trans fat with a slew of other bad ingredients – the study found only a marginal increase in saturated fat.

In 2008, Bloomberg forced chain restaurants in the city to post calorie counts. A study of Starbucks outlets in NYC showed that customers bought 6% fewer calories after outlets started posting calorie counts. Further afield in Seattle where chains are also now required to display calories (the practice also spread to California), a study of 37 sit-down and quick service burger, pizza, sandwich, and Tex-Mex chains in the area found fast-food entrees contained about 19 less calories only 18 months after the regulation was implemented. This might not seem like much of an improvement, but 19 calories lost per meal over a number of years can amount to a number of pounds lost. Moreover, even if consumers are not necessarily making healthier choices based on what numbers they are seeing, the ruling has certainly made food giants more conscious of the ingredients they are putting into their offerings.

2. Assertion: If the NYC sugary drinks ban is adopted nationwide, obesity will be decreased.

EvidenceAround one-third of Americans are obese, and at least two-thirds are considered overweight or obese, this includes over half of the New York City's adults and close to 40% of the city's public elementary and middle school students.

Thomas Farley, commissioner of New York City's Health Department, writes that if the new regulation leads to New Yorkers simply reducing the size of one sugary drink from 20 ounces to 16 ounces every other week, it would help them avoid gaining some 2.3 million pounds a year. He adds that obesity leads to the deaths of nearly 6,000 New Yorkers a year, more than any health problem except smoking, according to our best estimates,â and surmises that if we can reduce obesity rates in New York City by just 10%, it could save hundreds of lives a year. 

To assess the potential of the soda ban, it's worth alluding to a recent Health Department study which found that opting for a 16-ounce drink rather than a 20-ounce one every day (46% of Bronx residents drink a soda a day) will save a not insubstantial 14,600 calories a year. Incidentally, this amounts to four pounds of body fat. If anything this ban will teach us the benefits of portion control. We have become so accustomed to the rampant satiation of our desire for bigger and better that we don't really know what constitutes a normal, regular portion any more.

A study by the University of Texas Health Science Center which tracked 1,550 people between the ages of 25 to 64 for eight years revealed a common theme: the more soda participants consumed daily, the greater the likelihood that they became overweight or obese. Other researchers discovered similar trends. The Nurses Health Study which followed the health of close to 90,000 women over two decades showed that women who had one or more servings a day of a sugary drink were twice as likely to develop Type II diabetes than those who stayed away from such beverages.

"I can't imagine the board not acting on another problem that is killing 5,000 people per year," said Dr. Joel A. Forman, a board member and professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, before voting in favor of the proposal. The evidence strongly supports a relationship between sweet drinks and obesity.

"A huge, decades-long study involving more than 33,000 Americans has yielded the first clear proof that drinking sugary beverages interacts with genes that affect weight, amplifying a person's risk of obesity beyond what it would be from heredity means alone. This means that such drinks are especially harmful to people with genes that predispose them to weight gain. And most of us have at least some of these genes. In addition, two other major experiments have found that giving children and teens calorie-free alternatives to the sugary drinks they usually consume leads to less weight gain. I know of no other category of food whose elimination can produce weight loss in such a short
period of time," said Dr. David Ludwig of Boston Children's Hospital.

Overweight children, as compared to children with a healthy weight, are more likely to develop many health problems such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which are associated with heart disease in adults. Type 2 diabetes, previously considered an adult disease, has increased dramatically in overweight children and adolescents. Children at a healthy weight are free of these weight-related diseases and less at risk of developing these diseases in adulthood. The most immediate consequence of being overweight as perceived by children themselves is social discrimination and low-self-esteem. In a recent study by Jeffery B. Schwimmer who observed the obesity epidemic, obese children rated their quality of life with scores as low as those of young cancer patients on chemotherapy. In the study, 106 children aged 5 to 18 filled out a questionnaire used by pediatricians to evaluate quality of life issues. The results indicated that that teasing at school, difficulties playing sports, fatigue, sleep apnea and other obesity- linked problems severely affected obese children's well-being.

This is sourced from the American Medical Association article Health-Related Quality of Life of Severely Obese Children and Adolescents.

According to Stanford Hospital, obesity causes high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, joint problems including osteoarthristis, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, cancer, metabolic syndrome, and psychosocial effects. These are all major diseases and health disorders that have significantly negative impacts on child health.

Another important thing that this ban is doing is creating a huge amount of awareness about obesity and how to counter it. More than half of New York City adults (58%) are overweight or obese. The proportion of New York City adults who are obese increased from 18% to 23% between 2002 and 2010. Nearly 40% of New York City's public school students (K-8) are obese or overweight. The percentage of New York City adults who have diagnosed diabetes increased 16% between 2002 and 2010; nearly 10% of adult New Yorkers now have diagnosed diabetes. Data was drawn from the 2005 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), which interviewed more than 43,000 adults and 4,000 adolescents from every county in the state. The study was commissioned by The California Center for Public Health Advocacy. This study reports geographic variations in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among children, adolescents, and adults and examines the correlation between soda consumption and obesity. Among the findings: researchers found that adults who drink a soda or more per day are 27 percent more likely to be overweight than those who do not drink sodas, regardless of income or ethnicity. Among children, the study found that 40 percent of young children (2-11 years of age) are drinking at least one soda or sugar-sweetened beverage every day. Adolescents (12-17) represent the biggest consumers, with 62 percent(over 2 million youths) drinking one or more sodas every day, the equivalent of consuming 39 pounds of sugar each year in soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages.

More than 26 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes. An additional 79 million more are pre-diabetic. Thanks to these figures, the children of today have a good chance of becoming the first generation of Americans to die at younger ages than their parents.

A huge, decades-long study involving more than 33,000 Americans has yielded the first clear proof that drinking sugary beverages interacts with genes that affect weight, amplifying a person's risk of obesity beyond what it would be from heredity means alone. This means that such drinks are especially harmful to people with genes that predispose them to weight gain. And most of us have at least some of these genes.

3. Assertion: This is good for the economy because less money is spent on health care.

EvidenceThere is a $4 billion dollar burden in direct medical costs due to the city's obesity epidemic. Reuters reports that obesity in America adds roughly $190 billion to annual national health care costs. Furthermore, the Journal of Health Economics estimates that an obese man will rack up an additional $1,152 per year in health care spending. In addition, obesity will cost the USA about $344 billion in medical-related expenses, eating up about 31% of health-care spending, says the first analysis to estimate the future medical costs of excess weight.

CON (3 assertions)


Curbing obesity has been the latest goal of the mayor, who has been concerned about high rates of diabetes and weight-related health issues. More than half of adult New Yorkers are obese or overweight, according to the city's health department, which said it believed 5,000 New Yorkers died every year as a result of health problems related to obesity.

1. Assertion: It is localized and not nationalized.

Reasoning/Evidence: This ban was specifically made for New York. It isn't right to have this ban across the whole US for it doesn't matter for most states. For example, in Connecticut, this ban would be a complete waste for they are one of the least obese states in the country. All we would be doing is depriving them of buying their large sodas, which isn't fair.

Evidence: Connecticut has had one of the largest decreases in obese people, according to the US News. They are ranked third on a scale that ranks the percentage of obese people in each state, only behind Colorado and Wisconsin. It would be completely ridiculous to ban large drinks from these states for the ban would have little to no effect. It would just be a waste of taxpayer dollars. Another study, published in the journal Sociology of Education, examined school bans of junk food and found the same result: Whether or not junk food is available to them at school may not have much bearing on how much junk food they eat.

New York City will have to spend 2 million dollars per year to enforce this silly ban. If we nationalize this policy, it will become more difficult to enforce it. Prices for cities would skyrocket on something that is simply ineffective. In addition, there is no way that our country could enforce this ban. Will we have police officers that will go from restaurant to restaurant?

Study done by Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that a junk food policy in schools when

2. Assertion: This specific ban would have minimal effects on obesity, if any.

Reasoning: The ban is not effective in preventing people from buying soft drinks.

Evidence: David Katz, the director of the Yale Prevention Research Center states, If, in fact, people simply do buy two 8-oz. sodas routinely, the ban will accomplish nothing. If people drink the same total volume of soda, but spread out over the course of the day -- the ban will accomplish nothing. If people buy larger sodas at the many New York City venues where the ban does not apply -- the ban will accomplish nothing. If people replace the calories and sugar with other sources, the ban will accomplish nothing. And if people switch from slightly larger but less sugary drinks, now banned, to slightly smaller but more sugary drinks, the ban will have unintended consequences.

3. Assertion: It is harmful to our economy.

ReasoningBy curbing the products that can be sold, we reduce the market for goods. Movie theaters, restaurants, and others will be negatively impacted. In this economy, we cannot afford to lose this type of consumer spending.

Evidence: Theaters make up to 85 percent profit on snack sales -- they are regularly maligned for high costs -- and concessions make up to 40 percent of an operator's profit.

78% restaurant industry leaders who were polled in NYC thought this ban would severely cut into their profits.