The New York City Health Department is poised today to approve Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed ban on sodas larger than 16 ounces. That has generated another round of reporting which, I hoped, might discuss the available evidence for whether such a ban would help reduce obesity.
Alan Mozes at HealthDay takes time to ask the question, interviewing two researchers and reporting that the American Academy of Pediatrics, a Harvard obesity expert (Walter Willett), Weight Watchers, and Jenny Craig, among others, support the ban. But he doesn't explain why they support it or think it would be effective.
The AP's David B. Caruso explains that the ban would give consumers "a built-in reason to stop at 16 ounces," but he doesn't say much more than that about the potential effectiveness of a ban. And he seems to get the math wrong. He says that a 16-ounce drink has "200 calories, if it's a regular Coke, compared to 240 in a 20-ounce size." Do the arithmetic, and you get different values for the number of calories in an ounce of Coke.
(Aside: Coke apparently gets the math wrong, too. It says a 20-ounce bottle has 240 calories, which checks with Caruso. But it also says a 12-ounce can has 140 calories. Again, how many calories in an ounce, Coke? Maybe the question I'm asking--about research on the effects of a ban--is too complicated. Maybe I should ask how many calories there are in an ounce of Coke, which apparently is a difficult question to answer.)
As I reported here earlier, I did find one piece in August that addresses the scientific issues briefly and expertly. It was written by James Surowiecki, the economics columnist at The New Yorker. If you want to know whether the soda ban is a good idea, read this piece.