Soda Ban Roundup

Living 400lbs writes about why the soda ban really targets poor people, not fat people, and also about why the soda ban doesn’t personally affect her.

Meowser points out all the things that people must assume are true, in order for the soda ban to make any sense.

Daniel Engber gets into the (lack of) science behind the soda ban.

“…What would happen if we did nothing at all? Carbonated soft-drink sales have been in decline since the late 1990s even without a soda tax or size restriction, and a study from last year found that Americans’ intake of added sugar has dropped by almost 25 percent* in recent years. Meanwhile, obesity rates across the whole population seem to be flattening out.”

*According to this study, 2/3 of the drop in sugar consumption was the result of decreased soda consumption. Also, one of the authors is named Andrea Sharma–I wonder if she’s related to Arya Sharma?

Matt Yglesias calls the soda ban “dumb” and “paternalistic”, says that a tax would make more sense, and notes that from a revenue standpoint, a tax instead of a ban might be particularly advantageous because it could pull in extra money from tourists. He calls the idea of a soda tax “smart”, but makes it very clear in a later post that he doesn’t think a soda tax will lead to much reduction of soda consumption.

My take: if people think that restricting soda to “only” 16 oz at a time, with no other portion restrictions on food or beverages, is going to lead to any measurable difference in obesity rates, they’ve got another think coming.

Even if a ban like this were to happen in my area, I wouldn’t be affected much by it. The only time I buy a soda bigger than 16 oz for immediate consumption is when my boyfriend and I share one at the movies. (If someone wanted to get me to drink less soda in that situation, they should require free water to be available–or at least allow me to bring in a water bottle.) I’m not a regular soda drinker, but when I occasionally buy a bottle of Stewart’s soda or something similar, it feels like more than I want. (They’re 12 oz.) A soda tax would have a greater effect on me, since I do the grocery shopping and my boyfriend puts 2 liter bottles of Pepsi on the list. (Soda in grocery stores would not be affected by the ban.)

Some people are worried about the precedent this sets–that it will make it easier to pass fatphobic legislation in the future–but I wonder if there isn’t an upside. There seems to be quite a bit of backlash against this ban; I wonder if it wouldn’t lead to more opposition to further meddling, especially if it fails as spectacularly as I predict it will. But it’s also possible that this backlash will lead to calls to only apply such restrictions to people over a particular BMI. I think this is a bit less likely, though, because backlash doesn’t seem to lend itself to nuanced positions.

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