Posted by Jyoti Sihag on Sat, Apr 12, 2014  
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New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's contentious plan to keep large sugary drinks out of restaurants and other eateries was rejected by a state appeals court which said he had overstepped his authority in trying to impose the ban. The law, which would have prohibited those businesses from selling sodas and other sugary beverages larger than 16 ounces (473 ml) as a 16 ounce cup of sugary drinks has approximately 52 grams of sugar, or about 13 sugar cubes capable of developing obesity if consumed on regular basis with sedentary lifestyle. Bloomberg pushed the law as a way to combat obesity, but the appeals court said it was an overreach of executive power.

The key policy or regulation is to include actionable limits on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) by prohibiting the sales of 16 ounces of sugary drinks at convenience stores and restaurants ultimately defining and confining sugar intake levels on Dietary Guidelines or Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs).

In my view, I believe that this policy/regulation will be very effectual to enhance the health status of Canadians as Canada is now in the grips of the full-blown obesity as it ranks third highest in G7 countries with 42.3% obese women and 58.9% obese men leading to dreaded metabolic syndrome with an estimated prevalence of 19.1% with a continuous increase in this number within the Canadian population. In Canada, 24% of adults are obese and the rates of childhood obesity nearly tripled over the last two decades. The negative health consequences of obesity place a substantial economic burden on the health care system and society. This has tremendously affected the health care costs in Canada with the aggregated annual costs of obesity ranging from 1.27-11.08 billion dollars.

I do agree that looking at eating habits is only one side of the ledger. Controlling obesity requires more than cutting calories but I would suggest that before we protest against what we perceive as the prohibition era of soft drinks, we need to at least let the policy be in effect for a while. If no noticeable drop in health care costs and obesity rates are found, and if consumers still can’t stand the idea of drinking only 16 ounces of soda at a time, then the public health approach will need to be reappraised. The evidence currently with few experimental studies also suggests that obesity risk may be lower when SSBs are replaced by artificial-sweetened beverages in the diet.

I strongly feel that a decrease in size of sugary drinks offered might change the national perception of what is considered a normal size for unhealthy food. Also a decrease in the accessibility of large sugary drinks’ to residents would help lower calorie intake and thus reduce the number of overweight population.Therefore, I would like to conclude that strong consideration should be made towards policy changes curtailing in SSBs consumption.


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