Soda Debate Spreads to Iowa - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Soda Debate Spreads to Iowa

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by Phil Prazan

pprazan@myabc5.com

The New York City Mayor is trying to outlaw the sale of sodas over a certain size. The push comes to help curb obesity.

If approved, the proposed first-in-the-nation ban would prevent restaurants, delis, even stadiums and movie theaters from selling sugared drinks larger than 16 ounces.

It's a controversial proposal pitting personal health against government intrusion.

Here in Iowa, Pizza Ranch is known for their cool new soda machines. But their cup size is 22 oz.

Way too big according to the New York ban.

But we've already found a loophole, the ban doesn't say anything about refills.

"When it comes to things like soda pop just start at the base. Teach kids to make better choices. There's nothing wrong with having soda's now and then, but you just need to not over do it," says Iowa resident and mom Michelle Rogerson.

It's no secret that the health community believes soda isn't good for you.

"The problem with soda is, I don't think people know how many calories they're consuming when they drink. So on our menus they know how much food calories are but they don't know how much they're drinking. So just a 12 oz can of coke is 150 calories," says Kelsey Ermels, a dietitian at Iowa Health.

According to her, one out of three Iowans are obese.

But they don't believe placing portion restrictions will solve the problem.

"I don't think that that's the answer. I think that consuming sugary beverages of course should be limited but it needs to be put into the context of a healthy diet," says Ermels.

From a policy point of view, the Governor's office doesn't think the idea will catch on in Iowa politics.

"The initiative I'm sure is well intentioned however you can't legislate and regulate your way to good health. It takes exercise and education," says Tim Albrecht, Governor Branstad's spokesman. 

Iowa Health says that any drink with added sugar isn't exactly good for you. But they say the most important thing in fighting obesity is a healthy and balanced diet.

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