Last week, the NYC board of health approved Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on the sale of sugar-sweetened drinks in cups larger than 16 oz.   I was surprised and amused at the backlash it got from the public.  Here are some reasons why:

Last weekend my guy and I were driving to the beach and stopped at a Mexican restaurant for a few grilled fish tacos (which can be both delicious and healthy in Northern California). As we waited for our food we picked up a 12 oz bottle of a funky Mexican soda to split.

While drinking our tasty beverage we looked at the label. Yeah, I’m lucky we split that drink or I’d have unwittingly ingested 12 teaspoons of sugar from that teeny bottle. That’s twice the daily recommended amount of added sugar!

But I wasn’t too surprised. It’s like any other soda –  6 teaspoons of sugar per serving, and 2 servings in a 12 oz bottle.

Here’s an easy way to figure out how much sugar you’re taking in:

1.) Look at the nutrition label for the grams of sugar per serving.

2.) Multiply that by 4 (because 1 gram of sugar is 4 calories) to get calories from sugar in a serving.

Grams of sugar per serving x 4 = Calories from Sugar

When you do this calculation for soda you’ll see that all of the calories come from sugar. But of course! Sodas are sugar water! If you drink diet soda, it’s chemical water. Choose your poison.

3.) Divide Calories from Sugar by 15, since a teaspoon of sugar is about 15 calories, to find out how many teaspoons of sugar are in your serving.

Calories from sugar ÷ 15 = Teaspoons of Sugar

So, there are about 30 teaspoons of sugar in a 32 oz soda.  Think about sitting down to shovel all that sugar into your mouth instead of drinking it.  Make you feel a bit icky? Yeah, me too.

Sugar and Spoon

A few other things you should know:

The American Heart Association recommends most women have no more than 100 Calories (about 6 teaspoons) of added sugar per day and most men no more than150 Calories (10 teaspoons). This does not include natural sugars from fruits, etc. (1)  They base these recommendations on an expanding database of studies showing that empty calories (solid fats, alcohol and sugar) are strongly linked to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood lipids, and inflammation.

It’s been determined that sweetened beverages have contributed to at least one fifth of the weight gained in the US between 1977 and 2007(2). In my opinion Mayor Bloomberg did his constituents a big favor, especially those that regularly drink huge servings of sugary drinks.

For heavens sake- people pay to have trainers and nutritionists come into their home and throw out their junk food, and grocery shop with them to make the right choices. The mayor just gave everyone in New York City a free hand with that.

When clients want to cut down on something they’re eating too much of I tell them not to have it in the house. If it’s not in the house they won’t eat it.  If a 32 oz of soda isn’t around, people won’t drink it.

Another piece of advice I give is to eat small portions because you’ll be satisfied with less. If you really want more you’ll need to make an effort to get it. And most of the time you won’t make the effort. If someone really wants 32 oz of a sugar drink, they’ll make the effort to get another serving.

For those that are worried that this regulation is a sign we’re going down a slippery slope of government control I say – choose your battles. This is a move to help people get healthy. Save your complaints for if they make us eat lard sandwiches every day or something like that.

Of course, I think it’s a good move. If the entire country would take on this regulation we’d be better off. And, maybe it would be easier for some to lose a couple of unwanted pounds.



References —————
(1) Johnson, R., Yon, B., Turning the Tide on American’s Added Sugars Consumption. Nutrition Today. 2012, May/June:93-95.
(2)Woodward-Lopez G, Kao J, Ritchie L. To what extent have sweetened beverages contributed to the obesity epidemic?Public Health Nutr. 2010 Sep 23:1-11.

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