As we either celebrate or mourn the New York Supreme Court's striking down of the soda size limit in New York City, let's take a moment to look at the psychology of portion sizes, which is truly weird.
An overwhelming number of studies shows that people seem to base how much they eat on the amount of food or drink they're given, not how full they actually are. And portion sizes, of course, have increased dramatically over the past few decades.
In 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a document about research into portion sizes. Experiments with mac and cheese, sandwiches, pasta entrees, potato chip bags, bags of popcorn and other food all showed that people ate more when given more.
Often, people reported feeling just as full whether they ate smaller or larger portions. In the potato chip study, people didn't adjust their intake at dinner after eating a larger bag of chips.
The New Yorker covered more studies into the psychology of choice last August. (I recall anti-ban petitioners wandering the sticky-hot New York City parks around that time, asking passersby their opinions on the ban. Shake Shack patrons seemed to be opposed.)
People tend to go for the default option, the New Yorker reported. People living in areas where the default is to be enrolled as an organ donor are mostly organ donors. People living in areas where they have to actively check that "Be an organ donor" box are mostly not organ donors. People automatically enrolled in a retirement plan tend to stay in that plan, while people who must choose a plan move around more.
People also tend to take more when they know a bigger option exists, the New Yorker reported. It's as if knowing a super size exists, even if you don't choose it, makes that large frappe seem reasonable.
There's still an open question on whether, scientifically, a soda size limit would work to reduce obesity rates and the financial and health costs of obesity.
Whether Americans sustain their responses to increased portion sizes over weeks and months and years hasn't been studied, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pointed out.
And how much sugary drinks contribute to obesity by themselves is uncertain. Slate's Dan Engber--also a contributor to this publication--analyzed the science of linking sweet drinks to weight gain and found that the studies are unsure. Then again, the most unsure studies were supported by grants from the beverage industry.
People need to eat less sh*tty foods.
Soda is a good place to start, nothing but empty calories and there are some not so great relationships between High Fructose Corn Syrup and appetite.
This is something you cant legislate away unfortunately....Good intentions but poor execution.
I whole-heartedly agree with you Wanamingo. The psychology of it all can be argued with our individual freedoms. However, we must be prepared to reap the consequences of our actions or inactions. Especially when it comes to our portion sizes.
"Motivation and dedication are the tools that drive the engine of excellence" - Me
Sure, people eat more when given more, but no one is removing someone's choice to purchase a smaller soda or to drink water.
The question isn't whether this will reduce obesity (rationing food would do that). The question is whether it should be a law.
All laws are enforced by the threat of violence. And since the government is acting as your proxy in enforcing the law, you are responsible for their violence. Would you use violence to stop someone from buying or selling a 22 ounce Pepsi?
@Wanamingo: There is chemically no difference between the sugars in honey and the high fructose corn syrup. Honey has some impurities in it (bacteria, pollen, other bee-related things) but it is otherwise the same. In fact, some unscrupulous honey companies use HFCS to extend their honey and it is almost impossible to stop them because its so hard to tell the difference in the lab.
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There are 2 reasons I can see for a consumer to purchase a larger drink.
First there's the thought of "planning for the future" - If I buy the small drink now I'm going to run out, the larger drink will last longer.
Second is the economic reason that I can pay (typical fast food soft drink prices) $1.29 for a 16oz, $1.39 for a 20oz, or $1.49 for that 32 oz. The theory being that you're mostly paying for a disposable cup.
Taken in percentages:
For an ~8% increase in price you get 25% more to drink over small, for a ~15% increase in price you get 100% more over small.
The only thing restricting drink size does for me is make me run back and forth for more refills, I know up in the North East it's a somewhat foreign concept but down here in Texas we have self service drink fountains and establishments without exception (so far as I've known) willing to refill water, tea, coffee, or any provided soft drink endlessly (within reason).
@ppardee Laws are not all enforced with violence, generally only violent crime is replied to with violence. Most laws are enforced with fines, the government would rather us bleed green.