The obesity epidemic is growing in the United States. Government officials in the City of New York are targeting one culprit: soft drinks.
Whether you call it soda or pop, it has been blamed for playing a major role in America's obesity epidemic. The City of New York's Board of Health has banned the sale of large-size sugary drinks at restaurants, delis, food carts and cafes. Starting in early March of 2013, New Yorkers will not be able to purchase beverages larger than 16 ounces in these venues. The “Soda Ban” would affect a range of sweetened beverages, including energy drinks, sweetened iced teas and non-diet soda. Drinks not affected by the new restrictions include fruit juices, dairy-based beverages like milkshakes, and alcoholic beverages. No-calorie diet sodas will also not be affected.
Since 2005, Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York City, has successfully passed bills that have banned public smoking in parks, beaches and pedestrian plazas; required NYC restaurants to publish calorie counts; and restricted the use of trans fats. He has also proposed a bill that encourages restaurants to reduce their food's sodium content. This recently-passed proposal by Mayor Bloomberg will hopefully put a halt to the ever-increasing volumes of soda servings. In the mid-1970s, the average sugar-sweetened beverage was 13.6 ounces. Now, most Americans can't imagine purchasing anything smaller than 20-ounce sodas, which became available on the market in the late 1990s.
The average American drinks 53 gallons of soda a year; if it's regular soda, that comes to about 49 pounds of sugar. Soda is loaded with caffeine, high-fructose corn syrup and calories. In addition to contributing to weight gain, drinking soda increases your risk of diabetes, bone weakening and tooth decay.
High-fructose corn syrup, used in most non-diet sodas, raises blood sugar faster than regular cane sugar. Because the body converts this extra sugar into fat, research suggests that high-fructose corn syrup is particularly associated with increased body fat and obesity.
The Soda Ban has pushed many popular soda manufacturers toward developing a product with no calories and no artificial sweeteners, like aspartame. Natural no-calorie sweeteners, like Splenda or Stevia, that come from plants have shown promise; however, these sweeteners can produce an aftertaste that makes potential products unmarketable. A commercial low-calorie or zero-calorie solution may be years away.
Until then, the best way to prevent the poor health effects of consuming large amounts of sugar is with moderation and portion control. Whether or not you agree with the Soda Ban, consider trying Dr. Oz's 28-Day Soda Challenge.
Infographics courtesy of MikeBloomberg.com