New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg recently proposed a ban on the sale of large-size sodas and other sugary drinks in the city. In an effort to combat obesity, this first-in-the-nation ban would impose a 16-ounce limit on the size of sweetened drinks sold across the city at restaurants, movie theaters, sports venues and street carts. According to the Associated Press, the ban would apply to bottled drinks as well as fountain sodas.
Stefan Friedman, a spokesman for the New York City Beverage Association, has argued, “The city is not going to address the obesity issue by attacking soda because soda is not driving the obesity rates.”
What’s the truth about soda and obesity in America?
Though consumption of soft drinks has declined for the past 11 years, Americans still drink 543 8-ounce servings—about 40 gallons, or 100,000 calories worth—per year.
Soft drinks provide large quantities of calories with little to no nutritional value. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that sugary drinks “have been linked to poor diet quality, weight gain, obesity, and, in adults, type 2 diabetes.”
This includes extra calories in coffee drinks and smoothies, the CDC says, since the majority of sugary drinks are consumed at home.
Here at the Y, we are committed to healthy living. The Cleaver Family YMCA Healthy Living Director and nutritionist Jennifer Diggs believes Bloomberg’s proposal is a step in the right direction. “While government can't tell us what to eat or how much to drink, I appreciate Mayor Bloomberg's initiative to make consumers aware of the health impact that large quantities of soda can have,” she says.
As the summer rolls in and your taste buds crave a cold break, here are a few tips for keeping your diet healthy:
- Set a goal to drink at least 4 glasses of water a day.
- Focus on substituting sugary drinks for 100 percent fruit juice and low-fat milk.
- Diggs says, “For those who have a craving for the bubbles but want to cut out the high fructose corn syrup (or Nutrasweet), I suggest mixing club soda or seltzer water into 100 percent fruit juice. But don't forget that even though fruit juices are natural, they still pack sugary calories, so be sure to count those against your daily recommended intake.”
- Try something new! Bring a fruit or vegetable home from the store that you've never tried before.
- Check the label: Avoid purchasing foods with high amounts of trans or saturated fat. Low-fat dairy products, avocados, and no-sugar added peanut butter or almond butter are healthy options for kids to get the fat they need.
- Aim for 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
- Control your portions by shrinking the size of your dinner plates. According to Diggs, “Food and beverage portions have increased as much as 400% in the last 50 years.” You can even consider serving meals on your salad plates instead of the larger entrée plates.
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