Health researchers: Bloomberg’s sugary drink ban will fail

Who thinks New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s nanny-state ban on (some) large sugary drinks not only won’t work, but will backfire? The very researchers whose work Bloomberg cited as justification for proposing the ban. From The Atlantic:

Yes, we have found that when people are given larger portions, they do drink or eat substantially more. But to claim that these results imply that the ban will be effective is to ignore our larger body of work. In our experiments, subjects were given larger or smaller portions of food in a dining or party setting, where they were unlikely to notice portion size. It is exactly because participants weren’t paying attention that we got the results we did.

The mayor’s approach, however, overtly denies people portions they are used to be able to get whenever they want them. In similar lab settings, this kind of approach has inspired various forms of rebellion among study participants. For example, openly serving someone lowfat or reduced-calorie meals tends to lead to increased fat or calorie consumption over the whole day. People reason that because they were forced to be good for one meal, they can splurge on snacks and desserts at later meals.

The researchers, Prof. Brian Wansink and David Just of Cornell University, note the danger of taking a (pardon the pun) ham-fisted approach to health policy is that it will discourage future attempts to promote good health. And they leave no doubt that Bloomberg’s approach will fail:

150 years of research in food economics tells us that people get what they want. Someone who buys a 32-ounce soft drink wants a 32-ounce soft drink. He or she will go to a place that offers fountain refills, or buy two. If the people who want them don’t have much money, they might cut back on fruits or vegetables or a bit of their family meal budget.

Who buys large soft drinks? It’s not just the people who may have some disregard for their weight. It may also be the construction worker who buys a single drink and nurses it all day. It may be the family of three who decides to split a single drink to save money.

They also point out that Bloomberg might have been more successful had he created incentives for beverage companies to promote their lower-calorie products — and that he expressly rejected such an approach.

It seems to me the researchers’ explanations strike at the heart of the reason we can’t legislate good habits without resorting to Draconian measures (in this case, for example, a total ban on sugary drinks — although even that would fail if the ban didn’t extend well beyond New York City’s borders). And, of course, unintended consequences that could end up being worse than the intended ones.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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228 comments Add your comment

MarkV

June 18th, 2012
11:39 am

Is Bloomberg’s silly idea really a good topic for a blog discussion?

Dusty

June 18th, 2012
11:40 am

Awww, Kyle, how sweet it is and how useless it is to regulate people’s choices on such as that.

I wanted to hear more about security leaks. Next maybe?

GDRLA

June 18th, 2012
11:47 am

Seems as if a better way would be to remove Federal level price supports on sugar & corn syrup so the market price of the beverages that contain these products would be higher – that might reduce the consumption. Is a silly response to a ‘problem’ in that I can just order multiple 16oz drinks or get unlimited refills. If unlimited refills or multiple purchases are restricted then I would file a request for an injunction as it restricts my ‘persuit of happiness’ and spending my money (property). Or, to add a ’sin tax’ similar to alcohol & tobacco. And for the record – I am a FAT person but I do not drink sugary beverages, smoke, or drink alcohol and do not expect others to pay for my bad habits.

Dusty

June 18th, 2012
11:47 am

I raise my sugary 32 oz drink to BLOOMBERG!!! May he have a long life of oats, nuts, milk, organics and water by the gallon. Here’s to you, fellow!!

Dusty

June 18th, 2012
11:51 am

GDRLA

OK, you’re OUT! No fat persons allowed on this subject!! Sorry!

But thanks for your honesty.

Bulges are beautiful!!

Jimmy62

June 18th, 2012
11:55 am

MarkV: Completely appropriate. This is basically a conservative blog, and in the age of the Tea Party, how is government overreach not appropriate?

One of the arguments against ObamaCare is that if they can force us to buy health insurance, then they can force us to buy anything, with broccoli being the frequently used example. Bloomberg comes in from the opposite direction, preventing us from buying certain things. It’s not quite the same since there are plenty of products that are illegal to sell and buy and should remain so.. Overall I would say that Bloomberg’s move is typical nanny-state “I know better than you” BS. And with studies showing it will do more harm than good, it’s another lesson that just because someone is rich or elected (or both) doesn’t mean they should tell us how to live our lives.

Don't Tread

June 18th, 2012
11:57 am

“we can’t legislate good habits without resorting to Draconian measures”

Or violating someone’s rights. But liberals don’t care about infringing someone’s rights, and pass the legislation anyway. Does anyone in NYC really think they have Constitutional rights when the mayor is busy banning certain sizes of soft drinks, the “stop and frisk” rule, the Sullivan law, etc.? It’s like a police state in there.

I wish someone would do the right thing and impeach these people.

carlosgvv

June 18th, 2012
11:58 am

There will always be some politicians, both liberal and conservative, who, when given some power, will insist on running your life as much as possible. Bloolberg is one of them.

JDW

June 18th, 2012
12:00 pm

It’s kind of like designing sales compensation plans, actions are dictated by economics. You want to curtail consumption…raise the price.

Apple Bottom

June 18th, 2012
12:02 pm

Hasn’t Bloomberg outlived his usefullness just like our favorite caucasian golddigger on Atlanta housewives?

Muffin Top

June 18th, 2012
12:03 pm

Top of the muffin’ to ya……

the cat

June 18th, 2012
12:10 pm

The 1% keeps rolling along…..

The Romneys took a $77,000 tax deduction for one of Ann’s horses?

http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2012/06/16/the_tax_deductibility_of_horse_related_expenses.html

Curious George

June 18th, 2012
12:11 pm

WIll Mayor Bloomberg apply for a federal drone permit to send unmanned, golf-ball-sized drones into restaurants to spy on paying customers and owners to make sure no one is ignoring his ban on sugary drinks?

Curious George

June 18th, 2012
12:13 pm

Remember September 10, 2001, when this was still a (relatively) free country, before 0bama bin Laden WON by getting America’s own government to take away the civil liberties of its citizens?

Darwin

June 18th, 2012
12:17 pm

Although I understand the right wing’s determination that all things from the government is bad, excluding invading other nations for their resources, it’s almost as if you cheer for obesity, pollution, toxic contamination, proxy health care via emergency rooms for the uninsured, and so forth. Very bizarre indeed.

GT

June 18th, 2012
12:18 pm

Dead on and drugs are in that logic too. What is more Republican than to let em eat cake and die? Leaves more for the living! And speaking of the Republican spirit I just sent my competitor a dozen cases of coke, with my best wishes.

iggy

June 18th, 2012
12:19 pm

As long as they dont take away my 40 oz, Im ok!

Gimme Gimme Gimme

June 18th, 2012
12:21 pm

Cat-

So what? It’s in the tax code and is a legal deduction. Romney has never had a job that could effect Federal Tax Code.

Try harder. I am sure there are more talking points in your DNC email.

Kyle Wingfield

June 18th, 2012
12:21 pm

No, Darwin, what’s bizarre is that you can’t imagine any other reasons conservatives might oppose particular measures to address such problems, other than cheering for the bad outcomes.

Actually, it’s not all that bizarre. It’s pretty predictable, and pitiful.

GDRLA

June 18th, 2012
12:21 pm

Dusty, thanks for your honesty – I am fat from other issues opposed to those discussed here & what I mentioned in my reply – however I can (& will) use my bulk to push my way into situations such as this….Bloomfield might be well-intentioned but he is completely nuts & off the mark in this issue – there are ways around it – just look @ Prohibition & what happened there…same as what is currently happening with drugs – Guess if this sort of restriction ever comes to GA I will be buying sugar in bulk to make soda from my illicit still (oh wait, there is still a GA law that restricts me to buying no more than 50# of sugar @ 1 time – leftover from the old ’shine days). So even my beloved South has its share of stupid laws.

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

June 18th, 2012
12:26 pm

“it’s almost as if you cheer for obesity, pollution, toxic contamination, proxy health care via emergency rooms for the uninsured, and so forth.”

No, Darwin, but thanks for the hyperbolic response.

We don’t want “no government”; just less government and one that is more responsible and effective.

Dusty

June 18th, 2012
12:29 pm

Curious George 12:11

It won’t do any good for Mayor Bloomberg to send unmanned golf ball sized drones into restaurants.to spy. Their locations will be LEAKED!
—-
aYIEEEE There’s a golf ball sized drone on my ceiling. It is aiming it’s toothpick sized gun at my 32 oz delicious sugary soft drink . Help! Oh! Splat!!! 911 911 Send howitzer right away!!

(Sorry, Kyle! The sugar made me do it!)

the cat

June 18th, 2012
12:36 pm

Romney has never had a job

Yeah-we know that.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

June 18th, 2012
12:37 pm

And michelle obozo is living proof of this fact.

No matter how much she babbles, scolds, fingerwags or huffs and puffs at us about what we eat, her a$$ just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

She’s been gorging, ew.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 18th, 2012
12:38 pm

raise taxes by the ounce!

Dusty

June 18th, 2012
12:40 pm

GDRLA 12:21

Glad you are still with us and full of fatty infomation.

Like I was just going to run down to the convenience store and pick up my weekly 75 pounds of sugar. Now I find out it is illegal. How am I gonna bake a cake or two?

the cat

June 18th, 2012
12:44 pm

i report- this obsesssion you have with Ms. Obama’s posterior says a lot about you.

Dusty

June 18th, 2012
12:47 pm

the cat 12:36

I see you’ve been smoking CATNIP again.

“Romney never had a job”????

He’s no Democrat, kitty. He has worked! Successfully! Honestly! Intelligently! Definitely not a Democrat!

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

June 18th, 2012
12:47 pm

And your obsession with parsing comments to make a false impression of the truth says a lot about you, the cat.

the cat

June 18th, 2012
12:49 pm

Governor of a poor and pitiful state that bhedid absolutely nothing to improve other than providing AHC. What else? The Olympics? big deal, he had staffers, he was just the figure head. Bain Capital? big whoop.

GT

June 18th, 2012
12:51 pm

Predictability seems to be the style of the day, conversation has no use, we knew our and your answer before they were spoken.

The talk shows now make sure the vested interest have equal numbers to balance the conversation, knowing before hand exactly what you are going to say. Political views are like making a living being religious, then waking up one morning with doubts there is a god. The dilemma becomes do I continue to sound religious so I can keep my job or do I come out of the closet and tell people the real me. Just like a lawyer can represent both sides of a crime so can a spokesperson but a spokesperson can’t get work if he is believed to be a phoney. So no compromise, no acknowledgement the other side is right no matter how right or honest. Predictability is killing a good country.

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

June 18th, 2012
12:52 pm

the cat, this is not a Romney thread, so I’ll refrain from taking it in a direction Kyle doesn’t want to go.

Needless to say, your partisan grip on reality is tenuous at best.

carlosgvv

June 18th, 2012
12:53 pm

Curious George – 12:13

Please funish us a list of all the civil liberties our Govt. has taken away from us since Obama was elected.

the cat

June 18th, 2012
12:53 pm

Tibs-no rebuttal-no problem LOL

RC--apoi

June 18th, 2012
12:55 pm

Well, I’m all for that 32 oz. ban. What are they going to drink when they can’t get 32 oz.-sized Cokes? Why, beer, or course, or that cheap wine Sister Dusty guzzles. Either way I win.

Rick in Grayson

June 18th, 2012
12:55 pm

I’m fine with people eating at fast food restaurants every day and consuming as much sugar as they want to. However, I do not want that person or the government reaching into my wallet to pay for their indulgences.

Those that smoke, drink in excess, do drugs, have high BMI scores will simply have to pay health insurance premiums appropriate for their risky behaviors. Set the default health insurance premiums to a high level and through physican testing and examinations allow health premiums to be lowered for those that don’t have any evidence of risky health practices and/or those that follow routines that lead to better health (diet and exercise). Some citizens may be genetically pre-disposed to certain diseases, but they should still have to pay a higher premium.

Aquagirl

June 18th, 2012
12:55 pm

what’s bizarre is that you can’t imagine any other reasons conservatives might oppose particular measures to address such problems, other than cheering for the bad outcomes.

Well, when said “conservatives” ignore the long chain of government intervention and subsidies that make the 32 oz drink the norm, then yes, it looks like y’all are indeed for bad outcomes.

If y’all were so concerned about the nanny state, you’d oppose nanny state intervention that makes cheap crap possible. Instead, most cons remain silent. Matter of fact, they hop about like cheerleaders, hollering government should provide business with whatever they demand.

Dusty

June 18th, 2012
12:59 pm

the cat@ 12:49

Complain on! We know you get your MeowMix with food stamps and your kitties are in PeachCare.

So Romney worked and made a great living? I see you consider that CRIMINAL!!

Right! Why work when you can be a Democrat on the dole?

Kyle Wingfield

June 18th, 2012
1:00 pm

Aquagirl: Find me a conservative who likes corn and sugar subsidies. That is, one who is not a legislator who’s been lobbied by the corn and sugar industries…

Kyle Wingfield

June 18th, 2012
1:02 pm

the cat: We had a thread from Friday that lends itself to Obama-Romney comparisons, and we’ll have another one by tomorrow at the latest. On this thread, please stay on topic.

Curious

June 18th, 2012
1:06 pm

Kyle,

I’d bet the majority of corn and sugar producers are conservatives and probably pretty ugly about the Government.

Dusty

June 18th, 2012
1:09 pm

AquaGirl, 12:55

I see you’ve been enjoying more than 32 oz soft drinks. Big celebration for Father’s Day? Headache?

What’s this about “nanny state” and “cheap intervention” and “hopping around”? Huh?. You can do better than that. Maybe you could add a little Bush bait or the more usual lib tralala

iggy

June 18th, 2012
1:10 pm

The govt cant balance a checkbook, root out fraud or make even the most simple of decisions. Perhaps limiting soda pop and oppressing the electorate is their true calling.

DawgDad

June 18th, 2012
1:17 pm

iggy, you’ve hit the nail on the head. It’s all about power.

Dusty

June 18th, 2012
1:17 pm

RC-apoi 12:55

Whatcha doing over here? You’re a Bookman Buddy. And if you want to throw off on my lovely Manichevitz, wait until Christmas when I bake my fruitcake. If I can get my 75 lbs.of sugar for baking, that is…

md

June 18th, 2012
1:25 pm

“ignore the long chain of government intervention and subsidies that make the 32 oz drink the norm”

“you’d oppose nanny state intervention that makes cheap crap possible.”

Both functions of the consumer……we choose everything we do…….buying is a “do”.

Consumers dictate what is made and how big it is or isn’t…..which also has a direct relationship to their own wages.

1961_Xer

June 18th, 2012
1:33 pm

It may be the family of three who decides to split a single drink to save money.

Bingo. My wife and I and kids do this ALL THE TIME. We go to the Varsity and get a large frosted Varsity orange… and split it four ways. My wife and I order an entree… knowing it will feed two… and split it. Then, we split a dessert.

What the nanny state does, in fact, is punish those with normal weight and self control:
Meth heads getting into the pseudofed? Make the other 300 million citizens wait at the pharmacy desk for a half hour a year for pseudofed. Punish those who use OTC drugs responsibly. Make them kill 100 Million man-hours a year standing in line for Pseudofed (at a cost of 1-2 Billion dollars each year in wasted time).

Fatties drinking too much cola? Punish the other 200 million Americans who eat and drink responsibly by limiting THEIR portions, too. Punish those who can control themselves by forcing them to pony up twices as much.

It did not take two weeks before NY started offering up OTHER things which can be size-reduced. Movie popcorn, anyone (my wife and I split the popcorn. Buying two will cost almost twice as much)?

I am 6ft and weigh 165lbs. I have no problem with folks being overweight as long as it does not affect me. But it does. It does because they use 70% of the healthcare dollars in this society. It does because the punishment that proggies want to inflict on those people will be inflicted on me as well. So I get to pay for the asinine attempt to force them to eat right, and I get to pay for the medical bills. Wonderful.

scrappy

June 18th, 2012
1:33 pm

“Or violating someone’s rights. But liberals don’t care about infringing someone’s rights, and pass the legislation anyway. ”

Hahahahahahaha!!! So funny! Oh, I forgot, Cons only care about infringing someone’s rights when it is something they don’t like.

It is an OUTRAGE that they try to deny someones right to buy a soda, but when it comes to purchasing a drink on Sunday, or which Birth control I use, or who I have sex with, or what I discuss with my doctor – that is no biggie and in fact should be regulated by the GOP.
Right?

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 18th, 2012
1:35 pm

off topic:
To take one other example of big government that conservatives support, highly paid professionals (e.g. doctors, dentists and lawyers) use licensing restrictions to limit both foreign and domestic competition. While the government has been using the banner of “free trade” to drive down the wages of manufacturing workers, it has simultaneously been increasing the protection afforded doctors in order to prevent any similar downward pressure on their wages.

If doctors in the United States were paid the same as doctors in Western Europe, it would save us more than $80 billion a year. The big government subsidy to doctors alone is close to two times the money involved in Bush’s tax cuts to the wealthy.

Dean Baker
truthout.org

Hillbilly D

June 18th, 2012
1:36 pm

So Bloomberg comes up with the idea to prevent the sale of 32 oz drinks. Most everybody will just buy two 16 oz ones and some of those will probably just do it to be rebellious. About the only change that I can see is that two 16 oz Co-Colas cost more than one 32 oz. You’d just about suspect Bloomberg has a buddy who has a distributorship, who might profit from all this. Stranger things have happened.