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LIU Post Expert on NYC’s Big Drink Ban: ‘You Have to Start Somewhere’

Limiting portions can work; exemptions cited in legal challenge may point to need for more comprehensive ban, says Professor Kathy Isoldi


Morgan Lyle,Assistant Director of Public Relations
LIU Post, Long Island University

LIU_Post_Kathy_IsoldiBrookville, N.Y. – New York City’s ban on sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces, which was struck down in court this week, was a good idea that should perhaps be expanded, a nutrition professor at LIU Post said.

The 16-ounce limit wouldn’t stop anyone from buying another drink if they really wanted more, said professor Kathy Isoldi. Many people would find that 16 ounces is enough. “If you’re still thirsty when you’re done, maybe you’ll have water,” she said.

But once a consumer has purchased a large drink like a 30-ounce Big Gulp from 7-Eleven – or even a 50-ounce Double Gulp – they are likely to polish it off. “Research shows us you’re going to drink what you purchased,” Isoldi said. “You’re going to eat what’s in front of you. We’re kind of hard-wired to finish everything front of us. That’s just human nature.”

The 16-ounce limit would be is “a small change that doesn’t seem so painful,” she said. “That’s the way we want people to be able to change their intake. We have to start somewhere.”

The 16-ounce limit for sugary beverages in restaurants, delis, movie theaters and other businesses – but not in grocery or convenience stores – was declared arbitrary and capricious Monday by a state Supreme Court judge. Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration has appealed the ruling.

The ban was criticized as government over-reach and faulted for “loopholes,” like the fact that Big Gulps and two-liter soda bottles were exempt.

“I think that there are a lot of loopholes, and perhaps the answer is to come up with something more comprehensive,” Isoldi said. “But I think it’s good that we’re talking about it and thinking about it. Maybe we need to go back to the drawing board.”

Posted 03/13/2013

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