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Public Health Can--and Should--Act to Limit Soda Size

June 03, 2014

Statement in Support of the New York City Portion Cap Rule, from Lynn Silver, MD, MPH Senior Advisor, Chronic Disease and Obesity Prevention, Public Health Institute and California Project LEAN  

"The Public Health Institute (PHI) and PHI's California Project LEAN (Leaders Encouraging Activity and Nutrition) applaud the courageous initiative of the City of New York to limit the portion size of sugary drinks in food service.

"In the 1950s, a restaurant soda was just seven ounces, a bottle of soda only six—smaller than today’s ‘child size drink' and miniscule compared to supersized drinks weighing in at 64 ounces. As Big Soda and fast food restaurants have increased the portion sizes of sugary drinks, consumption has also increased.

"The science linking sugary drinks to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay is incontrovertible. Heart disease and diabetes are not rare conditions; they are two of the leading causes of death. Yet sugar-loaded beverages continue to be among the most heavily marketed products in the nation, including aggressive marketing directed at our children, where ‘adult-onset diabetes’ has become a childhood disease. Exploding portion sizes, coupled with ubiquitous placement and aggressive marketing, have made sugary drinks the largest single component of the growth in caloric intake of Americans over recent decades, though they offer zero nutritional value.

"Contrary to what multi-million dollar advertising campaigns purport, drinking these products regularly will not make you happy. Instead, it can land you in the hospital. It’s time to reduce portion sizes to better match what science shows: too much sugar is bad for health. We strongly encourage the New York State courts to recognize the importance of this measure to the public’s health, and the clear validity of using the health code to address it. Boards of Health have acted to prevent disease from food for over 100 years. We must support them in their efforts to address the large-scale illness caused by dangerously swollen soda sizes."