RWJF Statement Regarding Proposed Ban on Large Sugary Drinks in New York City

Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to limit serving sizes for sugar-sweetened beverages takes place within an important context. We know that sugary drinks are one of the top sources of calories in the American diet and, therefore, a big contributor to the obesity epidemic among both children and adults.

The Institute of Medicine recommended that business and government leaders adopt policies and implement practices to reduce overconsumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. RWJF agrees with that recommendation.

The proposal to limit serving sizes of sugar-sweetened beverages is a creative attempt to achieve this goal. Scientific research shows that portion size influences how much people consume. The bigger the bottle, cup, bowl or plate that’s in front of you, the more likely you are to drink or eat more. So this proposal is a reasonable approach that ought to be tested.

The mayor isn’t saying people can’t drink 32 ounces of soda. But if they have to order a second 16-ounce drink to do so, it will be a more conscious choice. And it’s going to take the combined effect of lots of small, healthy choices to get our country on the path to better health.

New York City is one of the first places to show signs of success in lowering obesity rates among children, but the mayor and other leaders in New York and elsewhere know that there isn’t a single, silver-bullet approach to reducing consumption of excess calories. The only way the nation will know if this new proposal will help to accelerate progress in preventing obesity is to try it and then evaluate the health and economic impacts.

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA
President and Chief Executive Officer