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Limiting soda sizes may increase obesity, boost sugary drink consumption instead of reduce it: Study

Friday, May 24, 2013 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: Mayor Bloomberg, soda consumption, obesity

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(NaturalNews) New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's harebrained scheme to restrict public access to sugary beverages sold in volumes higher than 16 ounces will more than likely result in people actually consuming more of such beverages, and thus lead to higher rates of obesity and diabetes. These are the findings of a new study out of the University of Missouri - Kansas City, which found that people are more likely to spend more money on, and drink more, sugary beverages when they are sold only in smaller containers than when they are sold in typical varying sizes.

For the study, researchers conducted a behavioral simulation exercise in which people ordering from a variety of different menu types were evaluated based on their individual beverage consumption patterns. One of the menus offered beverages in 16 oz, 24 oz, and 32 oz cups, while a second menu offered a choice of 16 oz beverages, a bundle of two 12 oz beverages, or a bundle of two 16 oz beverages. A third menu offered only 16 oz beverages.

The randomized experiment involved having each of the participants, who ranged in age from 18 to 39, choose from the different menus how many drinks they wanted based on the sizes and size combinations offered. The menus were also presented at different locations, including at fast food restaurants, movie theaters, and sports stadiums, which provided researchers with further insight about how consumption patterns might be linked to physical locale.

None of the participants were told about any particular beverage restrictions, but were merely offered varying options and combinations of drink options. And in the end, it was determined that, when given the option of bundling smaller-size beverages versus choosing a larger-sized beverage, participants almost always purchased more ounces total when choosing the bundling option. On the flip side, when given the option to choose a larger-sized beverage rather than only a smaller size or bundle, participants almost always consumed less of the beverage overall.

"These data suggest that a sugary drink restriction may not be effective in reducing consumption when businesses are able to sell bundles of soda that add up to the original, larger drink sizes," wrote the authors in their discussion. "Even with the restriction, New York State Senator Daniel Squadron has said that 'those who want to drink more will still be able to go ahead and have two.'"

Beverage size restrictions lead to more profits for junk food industry, study finds

Not only does restricting drink size lead to higher consumption rates overall, but it also creates an incentive for businesses to create smaller-sized drink bundles, which generate more revenue in the long run. As evidenced in the study, businesses selling beverages in areas like New York City where beverage size could soon be restricted can earn an average of $.67 more per customer if they offer beverage bundles rather than just a single, small-sized beverage.

Offering bundled beverages was also found to generate more profits than offering beverages in the multiple sizes, which means businesses in restricted areas actually have the potential to boost both their profits and the volume of sugary beverages they sell. In other words, beverage size bans will most assuredly increase sugary beverage consumption rates, create more disease, and boost profits for the junk food industry, all of which are the opposite of what beverage size bans were intended to accomplish.

"[T]his research shows a potential unintended consequence that may need to be considered in future policy making," adds the study.

Sources for this article include:




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