Here is my latest blog post for Huffington Post.
New York City’s Board of Health recently approved Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to limit the sizes of sweetened beverages. The regulation restricts the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces in restaurants, movie theaters, sports arenas and delis.
I published an opinion piece in support of the proposal for the New York Daily News.
My piece, “Smaller sodas, healthier lives” can be found here. http://soc.li/GHG9r5G
As I write: “This campaign makes sense at a time when the debate about soaring medical costs has taken center stage in the presidential election. Obesity is estimated to cost $190 billion a year.… The mayor’s proposal does nothing more than swing the pendulum back in favor of more modest food portions.
Those portions have increased steadily over the years, so much so that we have grown accustomed to oversize portions and have come to expect them.
Portion sizes are now two to five times larger than they were in the 1950s.”
Just how big have food portions become? The timeline below, which is based on my research in my book The Portion Teller Plan, highlights how our frame of reference has shifted.
Select Dates in the Supersizing of American Fountain Drinks
1954 Burger King offers a 12-oz Small and 16-oz Large soda.
1955 McDonald’s offers a 7-oz soda.
1961 McDonald’s adds 12-oz soda.
1962 McDonald’s adds 16-oz soda.
1973 McDonald’s adds 21-oz soda.
1988 McDonald’s introduces 32-oz Super-Size.
1989 Wendy’s adds the Super Value Menu including Biggie
1999 McDonald’s introduces 42-oz Super-Size.
The 32-oz Super-Size is downgraded to Large.
2001 Burger King introduces a 42-oz King soda.
2004 McDonald’s phases out the 42-oz Super-Size.
The largest size is the 32-oz Large.
2006 Wendy’s add the 42-oz Large size.
Wendy’s drops the term Biggie for its 32-oz soda, calling it Medium.
2007 McDonald’s offers a promotion of the 42 oz Hugo (previously called Super Size).
2011 KFC introduces the 64-oz Mega Jug.
2012 According to company websites, the following sizes are now available:
McDonald’s: 12-oz Kids, 16-oz Small, 21-oz Medium, and 32-oz Large.
Burger King: 16-oz Value, 20-oz Small, 30-oz Medium, 40-oz Large.
KFC: 16-oz Small, 20-oz Medium, 30-oz Large, and 64-oz Mega Jug.
Wendy’s: 12-oz Kids, 16oz Value, 20-oz Small, 30-oz Medium, 40-oz Large.
As I wrote in the NY Daily News, “Bloomberg is not banning the sale of soda. Nor is he telling consumers that they can’t drink soda. Rather, he is calling attention to how much is a reasonable amount to drink at a time. Sixteen ounces is certainly more than reasonable — a full pint of sugar water. Instead of viewing this as a ban, let’s see it as an attempt to reset the norm for how much soda truly constitutes an appropriate portion.
It is now time to return to the more reasonable sizes of the past, when obesity rates were much lower. Given the health consequences and enormous cost of our obesity epidemic, restricting large sizes of unhealthy sugary beverages is an excellent place to begin.