Restricting soda size may increase consumption

April 17, 2013

A study published in PLOS ONE shows that restriction of larger-size sodas, which encourages conversion into bundles of smaller-sized sodas, may increase soda consumption.

The researchers conducted a behavioral simulation to examine whether a sugary drink limit would be effective if larger-sized drinks were converted into smaller sizes. Participants were offered varying food and drink menus, with no limitation on drink size: one menu listed 16-, 24-, and 32-oz drinks for sale; one had 16-oz drinks, a bundle of two 12-oz drinks, and a bundle of two 16-oz drinks; and the third only offered 16-oz drinks.

The researchers found that with bundles of drinks, participants bought significantly more ounces of soda than with varying-sized drinks. In addition, with bundles, the total business revenue was higher compared with the menu that only offered small-sized drinks.

The researchers concluded: “Our research suggests that businesses have a strong incentive to offer bundles of soda when drink size is limited. Restricting larger-sized drinks may have the unintended consequence of increasing soda consumption rather than decreasing it.”