Bloomberg, Soda and Obesity
Just yesterday a New York State Supreme Court halted Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt at outlawing any sale of sodas over 16 ounces. This ordinance applied only to restaurants, ball parks and theaters, but did not apply to convenience stores and vendors of the like. In short the Judge Milton Tingling (That's his real name) basically said that it wasn’t any of the government’s business how much soda a person drinks.
Micheal Bloomberg Judge Tingling
Bloomberg, in numerous press conferences and interviews claims that he’s only trying to help. In his opinion, his constituents are too damn fat and if can get people to drink less soda he’s confident he can put a dent the in the city’s obesity epidemic. I think obesity in our culture is certain something to chew on so I don’t blame him for being concerned and he’s certainly welcome to weigh in on the subject, but a law? Hmmm.
Now I’m not gonna get all political on you – we all have different tolerances for how much authority we think the G should have, however if they are going to take a swing at obesity they should really know what they’re talking about. After all, some the worst trends in our society are the unintended side effect of good intentions. In this case it happens to be which soda’s they want to ban. See, the ban only effected sugar sweetened beverages. Diet beverages were not included as they are sweetened with aspartame or other forms of chemical slight-of-hand. This is where the F train jumps the tracks, which would be the only thing able to jump a track, a shoe box or anything taller than a Kaiser roll if this ban were upheld.
Sure, people drink a lot of soda and yes, it most likely contributes to obesity, yet restricting sugary beverages only and leaving diet beverage sizes intact would double or triple their problem. If Bloomberg had his way and New Yorkers started choosing diet sodas over sugar sweetened ones their population would sink Manhattan in a New York second.
Way back in 2005, Sharon Fowler, MPH (I don’t know what MPH stands for other than miles per hour) of the University of Texas, completed an 8 year study on soda consumption and weight gain. Sharon and her health posse rounded up 622 people of normal weight and between the ages of 25 and 64. Over the eight years of the study about 1/3 of the participants became over-weight (which is consistent with the national average). They broke the numbers down into non-soda drinkers, sugary or regular soda drinkers and diet soda drinkers. Here’s the waist band popping results:
For regular soft-drink drinkers, the risk of becoming overweight or obese was:
26% for up to ½ can per day
30.4% for ½ to one full can per day
32.8% for 1 to 2 cans per day
47.2% for more than 2 cans per day
For diet soft-drink drinkers, the risk of becoming overweight or obese was:
36.5% for up to ½ can per day
37.5% for ½ to 1 full can per day
54.5% for 1 to 2 cans per day
57.1% for more than 2 cans per day
For each can of diet soda consumed each day, a person’s risk of obesity went up a whopping 41%.
Okay!!!? Holy crap! Now that you’ve put down your Pepsi Max, let’s talk about this. The researches were quick to note that they didn’t believe that diet sodas alone were the cause of the crazy weight gain among its’ fans. Fowler theorized that perhaps when people sense they are beginning to tip the scales they resort to diet drinks to stem the tide. Hmmm. Some for sure, but no way does that account for 57.1%.
Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, nutritional consultant to the Pittsburgh Ballet (Like what does she consult those bun-heads on? How long should one wait to smoke after inducing vomiting?) believes that people are more likely to feel better about over-eating if they wash it all down with diet soda. “Some consider that dieting”, she said. I think we’re all guilty of some of that, but again, 57.1%? I don’t think so.
I think the most compelling answer comes from David Peirce and his jean jacketed band of science yahoos at the University of Alberta. Yes, Alberta is in Canada and Canada has universities. These guys fed young very low calorie and zero calorie foods to rats and found that, like me at the sushi bar, couldn’t ever seem to get enough to eat. They were never satisfied. Finally, here’s some science.
Diet and zero calorie beverages and foods are sweetened with things like Aspartame which your body does not recognize as food. Because it doesn’t see them as food the body does not initiate the normal digestive cycle it would for actual food. See, when you or I take a bite of chocolate cake or a sip of regular Coke it triggers our digestive system in order to begin breaking down the foods we’re eating or about to eat. Fat and sugar also trigger the release of cholecystokinin an enzyme that tells us when we’re full. Super low or zero calorie stuff doesn’t trigger anything of that, it does, however, tend to trigger our hunger impulse. So now you’re eating more and more and not feeling satisfied.
So here’s the deal. Unless there is some reason (like sugar sensitivity) that prevents you from regular soda it’s advisable that you give up the diet and zero calorie stuff. Come over the dark side, the sugary side, the skinnier side.
Well, that’s my two cents and it’s worth every penny.