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Study suggests Bloomberg big soda ban could increase soda consumption

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 11th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Mayor Bloomberg's soda ban might not produce the results he expects, assuming it eventually goes into effect. A recent study by California researchers show that limiting soda sizes could cause people to simply buy more soda and consume more than they otherwise would.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - It's been criticized as a move to turn New York into a nanny state, but for now Mayor Bloomberg's proposed ban on large sugary drinks is on ice. Meanwhile, researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have conducted a study wherein they conclude that such a ban will actually cause people to buy more soda, not less.

To be fair, Bloomberg's law isn't really an outright ban, just a restriction on the types and sizes of sugary drinks people can buy. The law was stopped by a judge, just before it went into effect.  Critics say the law is more government intrusion into private life, and another control on what people consume.

Proponents of the regulation say that sugary drinks are a major culprit in obesity, especially among children and that the cost of obesity ranges into the billions each year, outweighing the right to easily consume large beverages.

However, psychologists might have the best argument yet against the limits. They say that in a  behavioral simulation in which people were offered variously sized drinks for sale, participants were inclined to buy more ounces of smaller beverages combined than when they could simply buy one large beverage.

In practice, this could lead to increased, not decreased consumption.

Businesses they say, also have a strong financial incentive to offer bundles of drinks where drink size is limited. The result is the same. People consume more than they would if they could just buy a single larger beverage.

The results of the study should give pause to those who are pushing the ban, although it's unlikely to prove enough to dissuade crusaders like Bloomberg from their chosen path.

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