Harvard prof wants Cambridge to get even tougher on soft drinks than New York City

Cambridge Day reports on a hearing today at which two city councilors called for limits on the sizes of sugary drinks at restaurants - and at which a Harvard nutrition professor called for limits of 7 ounces, or less than half the size of the limit now enforced in New York. Only the city health department could enact soda limits.



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OK, so then

if each serving is limited to 7 ounces, then won't people just buy more individual sodas? What about Tasty Burger and all of those other places that have that wonderful Coke Freestyle machine? Now they'll only give you a 7 ounce cup but how can they limit how many times you hit the machine?

And this is what these learned people worry about in this day and age?

Read the whole article

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The professor addressed that very issue - people can just order another soda. He may be a sugar absolutist, but he's not unreasonable. Or something.


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What part of treating me like a child by uselessly limiting my soda size is not unreasonable? There are so many more important, effective things they could be dealing with instead. Things to justify the large wages that they are paid.

I rarely even drink soda, and I'm smart enough to realize if I eat like shit and don't exercise I'll get fat. I think most people get that, and simply choose not to. It's their life.

What ever happened to the liberal battle cry "it's my body, not yours"?

What about the Ice ... Ice, baby?

American sodas are often about 40% soda and the rest ice. So, if, say, you got a 16oz drink, you only get about 7oz of soda anyway.

When you order a soda in, say, France or Spain you get a 333ml bottle of soda and a little glass. You have to ask (beg) for ice, although they usually put two little cubes in for the kids when I was in Ireland.

The house wine was usually cheaper ... as was Guiness at $4eu a pint vs $2eu for a tiny bottle of Club Lemon.

I don't drink much soda anymore. I'd rather have beer for those calories. My kids got the message that soda is really a caloric albatross and mostly gave it up on their own ... if only we could bottle that.

Its not soda!

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soda made with sugar is far different that soda made with high fructose corn syrup. Bans on the later should be made, its in EVERYTHING now!

Mexican Soda

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Have you ever had those Mexican sodas that use real sugar like Jarritos? Sooooooooooo good.

Even Coke

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Shaw's always seems to have glass bottles of Mexican Coke made with cane sugar.

This whole debate gets my goat..

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This whole debate gets my goat..

While I understand sugary drinks can ADD to the epidemic. Its not really 100% of the concern, and by doing what they want to do, it will have little no effect, except.. yet again.. a "feel good" law, that really serves no purpose. I feel the same way about trans-fat bans. It really serves no purpose.

Why Americans are fat is a very loaded question and passing laws banning things isn't the solution. The main reason why Americans are fat is three basic issues, none of which are addressed in a ban.

1. We're lazy - Yes we're lazy. We don't exercise. We drive everywhere and no longer walk. We sink millions in highways for our cars to haul or fat butts around. Maybe if we built public transit people would use it and walk or bike. It takes more energy riding the T that driving.. I've had friends visit and they all say "you walk alot because you ride the subway." because they can't keep up.

But we're also lazy when we cook. We want 'quick'N'easy' for meals (i.e. Fast food, prepared microwave dinners, boxed crap..), its also far too easy to take a 100% processed microwave pizza and cook it, or have mac N cheese and hot dogs (for the kids).. you know, stuff that takes less than 20 minutes to cook. Which leads me to #2...

2. We eat too much processed food. This is a big one. Law makers should really start to clamp down what's IN our food (i.e. HFCS) , where it comes from, and how.. if its imported.. we can grow/make it here to have quality control. Force these farmers that get subsidies to look at growing veggies instead of corn (or nothing!).... Which leads me to #3..

3. We want cheap. The reason why most Americans eat processed stuff because its cheap. A box of 79 cent Mac and Cheese can feed 2 people, verses that same 79 might get me a plum tomato in the produce department.

Case in point and full disclosure... I'm a big guy and like a million other Americans this January, I'm going on a diet (for the 600th time). So I went to Market Basket to re-stock with healthy foods.

Of course I skipped most of the center aisles... I thought i was doing pretty good (in cost) until I hit the produce aisle. While I know its January in New England, produce is going to be more. But seriously, after picking up salad stuff, some fruit, and some fresh sides for dinner(s), I dropped almost 60 bucks. Its pricey eating fresh.

Maybe if GOOD food didn't cost so much, maybe people would eat it more.

And yeah, I fit 1,2, and 3 to a T. I'm lazy. I don't own a car, and ride the T... which is the reason why I'm not as big as a house.. but I don't exercise. I ate far too many processed foods (I'm a single guy... so its far too easy). And I want it cheap. 5 bucks will get me 2 boxes of Stouffer's pizzas, That's two dinners vs who knows how much in the meat and produce aisles. So yeah, I fit this to a T.

(and yeah.. I'm tired so I'm babbling..)

I agree with your tired

I agree with your tired babbling :) Soda's not great, but it's not the entire reason we are overweight in America.

This sort of reminds me of the ban on selling cigarettes in pharmacies in Boston. I honestly haven't seen any stats on whether people are more likely not to smoke if they can't buy their cigs at any old place--whether that research is out there or not, I don't know. But I do know friends who have taken note of where they can't buy them and will simply go to other stores. If you want it bad enough, you'll find it, pay more for it, whatever.

Good luck!

Hey cybah, good luck with losing weight! I'm a sucker for a good weight loss success story. Why? Because it ain't easy. It involves of lot of changes which are never easy. Not just diet, but lifestyle changes. Get back to us in 3-6 months and let us know how it goes.
Suggestion: Get a bike if you don't already have one. Start off really easy and build up.

Getting back to topic: totally disagree with banning anything, especially soft drinks. People just want to ban soft drinks (or bottled water in Concord) simply because they don't like the industry.

in re: cheap(ish) produce

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Hey, have you ever tried Boston Organics? (This is an unsolicited plug for them - I'm not affiliated with them, but I'm a long-time customer). They bring you(!) a box of veggies on a weekly or a bi-weekly basis. You can get all fruits or all veggies, or you can split up the box so it's half and half, or 1/3 one and 2/3 the other. They have a giant master "no" list on their website so you can check off all the things you don't ever want them to bring you, and give them ideas of what they can substitute.

I pay $30 for a small box, and as a single woman that will last mee a good week and a half to two weeks. Plus they give me all kinds of crazy stuff that forces me to eat outside my normal boundaries (things I would never think to buy at the grocery store: kiwi) and discover things I didn't know I liked (cauliflower!). Their website has recipes if you're not sure what to do with your vegetables that week, and their customer service is top-notch.

The reason I spout on about them is they were instrumental in getting me to change my diet to put heavy emphasis on fruits and veggies. Also, THEY bring YOU the box, so that's fewer groceries I have to haul home on the T, which is thrilling. Check out their website if you're so inclined, they're at www.bostonorganics.com and I have no idea how to embed that link :)

Best of luck to you!

#1 cause of fat folks in the U.S.

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and similar nations is automobiles and a lifestyle that revolves around them. The U.S. probably developed this problem first because we were the first western first world nation to really have massive suburban sprawl where you drive everywhere. This problem can now be found in every first world nation, yes even your precious Europe. There are plenty of fat people in Euroland and the UK, not to mention Canada. Just came back from Quebec and it was a sight for sore eyes. So, in a nutshell, a sedentary so-called lifestyle is the #1 cause of being overweight and obese. For the majority of people, NOTHING else comes close, not even the professors sugary drinks.

Yes, I think there are some things that maybe should legitimately be banned for public health reason, high fructose corn syrup and numerous artificial sweeteners among them. Aside from that, the professor needs to mind his own damn business. No one asked him to be their mother.

Bad Feedback Loop with Diet

When I've had to do most of my commuting by car, I find that making good eating choices can be far less simple than if I'm biking or walking through an urban area after getting off of a train. It isn't just the lack of exercise that figures into this equation.

Part of it is that car-dominated areas also tend to have a lot of drive-through junk food, but one has to go to a supermarket and spend considerably greater amounts of time to get better stuff (and have the time and some place to store food and prepare it).

When walking around the city, I have a lot more suitable "grab and go" choices - fruit stands, some of the food trucks have quick and healthy options, salad bars, etc. With a bike, I can do even better because I can grab something at Whole Foods or Trader Joes for less money (closest stores to work - other supermarkets would do, too).

This was my other point

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This was my other point too with the "we're lazy" comment.

We've moved away from walkable streets and moved toward a car-centric society.

in the 1950s, you could walk out your front door and WALK to the grocery store, doctors office, school, and maybe even work.

Now we all live in subdivisions (the burbs) far away from any sort of service. We live next to highways that allow us to drive to connect us to these things. All our stores, offices, schools, and employers are now all in huge office parks or shopping centers.

No longer can we walk anywhere to get what we need. We are forced to drive (for the most part)

Maybe if things were closer, we'd walk again.

Who is this "we" you're talking about?

I have never been able to conveniently walk to a supermarket, doctor, school, work, etc. People in the burbs almost never have that convenience.

FWIW, obesity has nothing to do with cars or one's location of domicile.

Check out some maps

Look at where the obesity rates are highest, what the land use is like, and try that again.

I can think of some..

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of course they are all in the South...

San Antonio

Why? because suburban sprawl... aka Car-Centric societies.

Deja vu all over again

swirly and I have been here before. ;-)

Here's a quick recap from our conversation from over a year ago:
- swirly claimed suburb dwellers are fatter than urban types
- I claimed bullshit, place of residence was irrelevant. There is no shortage of fat people in the city.
- swirly provided a link to a study (different from this one) that supported her claim. Problem was, you had to pay 50 bucks to see it. Sorry.
- I googled and found at least two other studies that proved the opposite - that urban dwellers are fatter than those in the sticks. Form whatever conclusion you wish. I'm sure you can find a study to support any claim you'd like.

My conclusion: Obesity has nothing to do with the GPS coordinates of one's domocile, and that there are other variables that should be considered. Start with socioeconomic status. But soft drinks? Sorry, that's way down on the list of variables.

Body of Evidence?

Try Pub Med: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=obesity%20...

Most of these have abstracts with study specifics if you can't get the whole study.

So you found *two* studies - I looked at those, yes. As I recall, one was pretty old, the other wasn't peer reviewed and both had some serious methodological errors and overdrawn conclusions. (One thing I like about the article I linked to - besides the lack of pay wall - were the rather nuanced conclusions).

Also, most of the abstracts that I reviewed when putting together sessions and poster sessions for a major international envronmental health conference say that your conclusions are ill-founded. Some support for them in a couple, but the vast majority are finding strong correlations between built environment and physical condition even when controlling for socioeconomic factors.

That's why, when I professionally publish survey articles, I screen for quality and look at a large number, not one or two.

Go ahead - PubMed is open for you to look. Go ahead and vary your search terms - try this at home.

Actually, obesity rates are

Actually, obesity rates are much higher in the Southeast than in the Northeast - it has nothing to do with 'sprawl.' Suburban New Englanders weigh less on average than Bible Belt urbanites.

Not so sure

Ever been to Atlanta? Columbia, SC? Florida?

Those places spraw massively compared to the Northeast - or, at least, where most of the population lives in the Northeast. Public transit isn't what it is around here, either, and sidewalks can be an adventure.

People in hotels that I've stayed in considered it very odd that I had no interest in waiting up to 1/2 hour for a shuttle to a place 1 mile away ... even in a capital city with fairly good pedestrian infrastructure!

People in the larger cities of the Northeast do far more walking to get around than people in the south, and that difference in activity level is believed to account for at least part of the difference in obesity levels.

Even the airport in Charlotte, NC is pretty sad to have to hang around ... people fighting for space on the little shuttle things because they just can't manage to walk a fairly modest distance to their terminal. These are people who aren't very old - they are simply unaccustomed to walking anywhere at all, ever.

Case in point

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Yes it does. Very much so.

Really? Are you sure about that? You must be under 30 then if you don't remember.

I remember living in my home town.. in the burbs, and be able to walk everywhere I needed to go. There was a market to shop at, a doctors office, a dentist, even my work was walkable.

Now we get in our cars, and DRIVE everywhere. Hell we won't even walk across the parking lot.. we just circle around and around to find the closets spot too the door.

If your statement was true, why do we have town/city centers? If it wasn't we wouldn't have them, and New England would look more like Dallas Texas, where you NEED a car to get around.

Also what do you think people did prior to 1940? Car ownership wasn't a big deal until the 50s. What did people do before car ownership was wide spread? They WALKED. EVERYWHERE.

Probably depends on what you call a suburb

Is Brookline a suburb? Newton? Arlington? Somerville? If your answer is "yes", then you're semi-right. A lot of residents are walking distance from some shopping, though limited. Plus, there's public transportation.

But, what about Marshfield, where I grew up? Very few people were near downtown, they were spread all over the place. You needed a car - period. Still do. You can add Hopkinton, Townsend, Barre, Wayland, Abington, N. Andover, Suffield, Agawam, Groton, Wilbraham, Rehoboth, etc. to that list.

Car ownership was a very big deal before the 50's. If you lived in the burbs, you had a car.

And I'm old - 58.

Non-answer of the day is...

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brought to you by this Brookliner: it's the best of both the city and the suburbs without most of the crap that you have to deal with in either.

How's that for a non-answer?

A BIG part of our so-called sedentary lifestyle

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revolves around the huge amount of time people spend sitting on their ass, driving around in an automobile. STRICTLY from a health standpoint, it's one of the most unhealthy positions a human can be in, especially for extended lengths of time. Sitting for long periods of time in general is very bad for anyone's health. But automobiles also encourage a sedentary, 'lazy' if you want to call it, lifestyle. So yeah, it plays a HUGE role.

And of course in addition most people simply eat too much, take in too many calories and expend too little to off-set what they've eaten. This results in people getting fat. Most people [I'm not immune, I don't claim to be superior or above it all] eat like we were still farmers working in a field or doing physically demanding factory or manual labor work, and obviously this is no longer the case; most of us have jobs that are not physically demanding.

Finally, I think it's worth mentioning that many drugs/medications as a side effect cause weight gain. MANY Americans are on drugs [medications if this makes it sound nicer].

I'm not a puritan and am certainly not anti-car or whatever, just stating what I think should be obvious to any reasonable intelligent person who isn't in denial.

One could also say the opposite

But automobiles also encourage a sedentary, 'lazy' if you want to call it, lifestyle.

You can also say that cars encourage physical activities. My car takes me skiing, XC skiing, hiking, mt. biking, kayaking, surfing, bike riding in new areas, sailing - all sorts of fun, physical stuff.

I'm saying this partly in jest. Yes, my car does enable me to do all those things and more. I just think your argument is nonsense. There are a number of factors involved in obesity, and to single out the automobile is a bit narrow-minded.

I kind of agree merlin....

The internet, video games, netflix, on demand movies, and 589 cable TV stations with DVRs have a big impact on people sitting around doing nothing.

Cars don't have much impact on obesity, but poor transportation options might have an impact (person forced to live 10-30 miles from where they work becuase of housing costs, and it is cheaper to drive).

And how about phys ed classes these days? Instead of a few hours a week doing some actual real excersise where kids sweat and get out of breath (cardio), many of these classes have simply been fillers for cirriculum monkeys who want to look good on paper.


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If you're obese then please get help from your doctor. Please don't assume that 'we' are all like yourself, overweight. I bust my ass staying in shape by eating right and exercising as do the majority of people I know.

I'm the original poster of the post you are responding to

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You sound unnecessarily defensive in your post. I said 'We' ONCE...in reference to 'We' as a culture and society, and simply out of politeness; I didn't want to sound like I was lecturing and talking down to people. No, I am far from obese or even just fat. I'm lucky, I just don't have the fat gene. But I also try to control what I eat and get plenty of exercise and physical activity.


as for the car angle, many Americans do indeed spend inordinate amounts of time sitting in their car commuting or just driving around, and yes, this absolutely greatly contributes to our [American society, don't take offense, I wasn't necessarily referring specifically to you or other fit people] epidemic of fat people. Yes, you can drive your car/SUV/truck to go running, to the gym, sking, whatever...but like I said, mostly people spend their time commuting to and from work [and MANY Americans live FAR from their employment, which is another issue] driving to the mall/shopping, driving to the liquor store, driving to eat out, driving kids to and from school, etc., We [as a society] spend inordinate amounts of time in sedentary physical positions either sitting on our ass in a car [or bus, train, plane], in front of a computer, on the couch watching TV, in the kitchen eating, at work, etc.,

In the past, even in the not so distant pass, most people lived far more physically active lives. Technology, cheap gasoline, and so-on have made life 'easier' no doubt, it's also made us [as a society, I understand many people exercise and so-on] far more sedentary. And we [as a society, I understand people are individuals and act independently] statistically eat a lot, take in a lot of calories, similar to the way our on average more physical ancestors ate. This is partly to do with an abundance of inexpensive food, and probably a response by many people to boredom and stress. And then there's the drug side effects angle, not to mention the smoking angle; smoking suppresses appetite, and far fewer people smoke today than in the pass.

The reason for having so many fat people are varied, there is no one single reason. And banning large soft drink sizes is silly and quasi-fascist IMHO.