Obesity: Front Line Battles

Monday, September 24, 2012 - 8:12am

Efforts to combat obesity using calorie labels and other marketing moves draw praise.

According to Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity over two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.

In an effort to help the American weight problem McDonald's has decided to start listing calorie information on menus in 14,000 restaurants.

A new law requiring that takes affect next year and McDonald's is getting a head start.

In New York the Board of Health has voted to ban the serving of sugary drinks in containers bigger than 16 ounces, over the objection of some.

"We do not believe that restricting the size of one product in certain establishments in the city is the comprehensive approach that we need to deal with this issue," says Eliot Hoff of New Yorkers for Beverage Choices.

The ban applies to ballparks, restaurants, movie theaters and food trucks and its something Mayor Michael Bloomberg has pushed.

"This is the single biggest step any city I think has ever taken to curb obesity," he says.

But will it work?

Will posting calorie counts and banning Big Gulps really help Americans lose weight?

"We don't know specifically whether these things will work until they're tried," says Rudd Center director Kelly Brownell.

Brownell says there are some studies that suggest moves like these may be effective.

"One thing that's nice is that different cities and states are trying different plans and this provides lots of natural experiments that you can use to converge on a small set of bets practices," Brownell says.

And, he adds, the conversation alone is healthy.

"People are paying more attention to the obesity problem and at all levels of government officials are now thinking what can we do, what should we do, what do we need to do in our locality and those conversations will lead to good things," Brownell says.

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