85 Percent of Consumers Believe No Benefit from Serving Size Limits

November 26, 2012

The consumer panel weighs in on Bloomberg’s soda serving size limits; why they hate it and why they like it here.

Fifty-eight percent of adults living in New York City and almost 40 percent of children attending public school in grade eight or lower are obese. That's why Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made it a top priority to champion initiatives that he hopes will change the eating habits of New Yorkers. The most recent and quite controversial, a ban on selling soda and sugary beverages over 16 ounces in restaurants, delis, mobile food carts, stadiums, and movie theaters, was passed in September by the NYC Board of Health in an eight to zero vote.
The Lempert Report surveyed the SupermarketGuru consumer panel on their thoughts of the recent soda serving size ban. When asked if a city should pass such a rule, a sweeping 75 percent said no (the same amount also said a similar limit would be un-welcomed in their community).
Those who did say yes cited, “It might cause people to pause before buying more” and, “People can’t control themselves” as the top two reasons.
Meanwhile, of those who said no, nearly three quarters feet, “It's none of the city's business - and limits aren't necessary.”
While consumers of NYC can purchase as many 16 oz drinks as they like, the Mayor describes the ban as a way to alert consumers to portion sizes. Studies, like those from Cornell's Food Lab, have shown that the size of plates, portions, and packages does have an influence on how much we consume. And consumers feel similarly - of those who think the ban is a good idea, the top five benefits they think it will have include, “help improve overall health,” “help to lower obesity,” “help people perceive a 'reasonable' portion size,” “help prevent diabetes,” and “help prevent heart disease.”
The Lempert report feels we could all use a “re-education” on serving sizes but surprisingly, the consumer panel feels differently; when asked if they thought
“you or someone in your household would benefit from such limits?” 85 percent said no.

Opponents of the ban feel it is an infringement of the rights and personal freedom of choice. However, the Wall Street Journal reported that many of Bloomberg’s initiatives, including the Board of Health requiring calorie counts posted on menu boards, were unpopular in the beginning but have since proven effective in controlling consumption.

Time will tell if Bloomberg’s latest health awareness initiative will prove effective.