A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that regulations capping soda size may have the biggest impact on overweight kids and young adults. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration is currently in court trying to defend a law banning the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 oz in restaurants, theaters, and stadiums, part of an attempt to lower obesity rates.
The researchers analyzed nutrition surveys filled out by more than 19,000 U.S. kids and adults from 2007–2010. Survey participants reported everything they had eaten or drank in the past 24 hrs. About 71% of children and 57% of adults said they’d had at least one sugary drink in the past day. However, just 7–8% of them had bought a drink greater than 16 oz at a restaurant, sporting event, or other foodservice establishment. Low-income people in the study reported drinking more sugary beverages than their wealthier peers in general, but they weren’t any more likely to buy large restaurant drinks.
Young, overweight, or obese people were more likely to buy large drinks that would be banned in New York City than thinner teens and young adults, however. In fact, 12–14% of them said they’d bought one of those beverages in the past day. This group of people could potentially save 99–102 calories by drinking a 16-oz soda. However, as the researchers note, there is no way to know how many people would simply order more than one 16-oz drink.