Study: Proposed soda ban likely to backfire


Los Angeles Times

After New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg unveiled his plan to ban the sale of sodas larger than 16 ounces, comedian Jon Stewart complained that the proposal “combines the draconian government overreach people love with the probable lack of results they expect.”

It turns out the “Daily Show” host was on to something.

New research shows that prompting beverage makers to sell sodas in smaller packages and bundle them as a single unit actually encourages consumers to buy more soda — and gulp down more calories — than they would have consumed without the ban.

Not only would thirsty people drink more, but circumventing the big-drink ban by offering consumers bundles of smaller drinks also would mean more revenue for the beverage purveyors, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE. The sales boost probably would offset the added cost of producing more cups, lids and straws to hold those extra drinks, the researchers found.

The results reveal “a potential unintended consequence that may need to be considered in future policymaking,” wrote the study authors, psychologists from the University of California, San Diego.

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