New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a big move to ban big sodas and extra large sugary drinks from city restaurants in hopes of making the city healthier.
But the possible regulation of big sugar-filled drinks in the Big Apple poses questions nationwide – and here in southeast Michigan – regarding appropriate serving sizes of our favorite sugary drinks.
The pending NYC ban
Bloomberg's proposal would ban restaurants and other food establishments in the city from selling sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces, according to the Associated Press. The ban would also apply to beverages that contain more than 25 calories per 8 ounces, it reports.
"The single largest driver of these alarming increases in obesity is sugary drinks, which have grown in size," a statement from Bloomberg's office said, according to CNN.
The AP reports that nearly 5,800 people die from obesity per year in NYC, and about 1,700 people in the city die from diabetes each year.
The city's board of health considered Bloomberg's proposal June 12 and voted unanimously for the proposed legislation to move into the next phase, which is a "six-week public comment period," the AP says.
A formal vote on the measure will take place Sept. 13, according to the AP – and, if approved, would then take effect six months later, CNN reports.
How much soda should we drink?
Although the NYC soda size ban doesn't affect southeast Michigan, it does raise questions about how much soda we should be drinking – or if we should be drinking any at all.
According to the American Heart Association, people looking to stay healthy should limit themselves to no more than 450 calories of sugary beverages per week, which is about 36 ounces.
But Anne Baker, holistic nutritionist and owner of Nourish Holistic Nutrition, serving Oakland and Macomb counties, says there's no appropriate serving size for soda.
"(Soda) is completely worthless," she says of its nutritional value. "No soda is good for anybody."
Baker says most people know soda contributes to obesity, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, but she says she's seen people who are "so hooked" on the sugar high and caffeine combined that they've actually replaced food with a sugary drink.
"They have sleep issues, (are) very jittery, have focus and concentration issues," she says.
Even diet sodas with artificial sweeteners are bad for the brain, she says.
"Artificial sweeteners have excitotoxins, (or) neurotoxins, that destroy brain cells," Baker says.
Better beverage alternatives
Baker says if you're thirsty, you should be drinking water.
"The body was never designed to intake that much sugar," she says of the amount found in sodas. "(It's) better to sip water through the day. Your body knows what to do with that."
For kids, Baker suggests water or making something equally as flavorful as soda, such as a fruit smoothie or homemade lemonade with stevia – a natural sweetener – rather than sugar.
As for the proposed ban in NYC, Baker says she "applauds" what Bloomberg is doing, but says the people drinking large amounts of soda don't understand the lack of nutritional value in soda – so a ban is not going to "solve the problem."
"It will cause us to talk about it (and) hopefully if people get angry enough about it maybe they'll research how bad pop is for them," she says. "It's one little change that would make a huge impact. We have to start somewhere."