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Expert says soda ban will not curb obesity
06.05.2012The Mayor of New York City recently proposed a rule that would ban restaurants and other vendors from serving sodas larger than 16 ounces. The move is intended to fight the obesity epidemic but experts say it is unlikely to produce the kind of results lawmakers desire.
Kathryn Kaiser, a researcher at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, said the main problem is that soda consumption is not the sole cause of obesity. An overall unhealthy diet, which may include large quantities of soda, is the real cause of obesity.
Studies conducted by Kaiser and her colleagues showed that people who consume a lot of soda are not necessarily any more likely to be obese than people who drink none. The key factor is the overall diet a person eats.
However, by banning only soda, the city is sending the wrong message, Kaiser said. It obscures some of the other factors that play a role in weight gain. In so doing, the rule may prevent people from learning about more of the true causes of obesity.
"My hope for the public debate and our leaders' focus is that we direct energy and resources toward the design and conduct of randomized trials that will definitively answer the questions about actions that can significantly reduce weight. From this type of effort, policies may be better informed," Kaiser said.
Soda is very high in sugar and contains virtually no nutrients that support human health. It is a major source of excess calorie consumption among many people, which forms the basis for arguments in favor of bans. Reducing soda drinking could help to minimize one of the more prominent factors that contributes to obesity.
However, individuals who are overweight may still benefit from healthcare and wellness programs to help with weight loss rather than allowing legislation to form the boundaries of their diet.
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