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Study on Soda Size Offers Major Blow to Bloomberg's Soda Theory

"...the New York City ban on large-sized drinks may have unintended consequences..."

Soda cups of various sizes are seen at the food court of the South Street Seaport March 11, 2013 New York City. Today a New York state judge halted a controversial ban on large sugary drinks that was to take effect tomorrow. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

Although New York City Major Michael Bloomberg's infamous large-size soda ban continues to remain overturned by a New York Supreme Court ruling, it is a decision the mayor said he is confident will reverse in an appeal.

But a new study is finding that even if such a ban were to be instituted, it might actually have the reverse effect on soda consumption.

A study by researchers at the University of California-San Diego found soda consumers are likely to buy more of the sugary drink if it is sold in packs of single-serving sizes than if it were just one large size soda.

(Photo: Shutterstock.com)

The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE by Brent Wilson, gave participants three drink choices. One option included a choice of a 16, 24 or 32 ounce individual drink. The second menu option was a single 16 ounce drink, two 12 ounce drinks or two 16 ounce drinks. The third was only a 16 ounce drink.

The study found that the 100 participants were most likely to choose the option that involved bundling of two drinks, compared to options with only individual drinks. Business earnings were also found to be higher with this option for packs of drinks as well, suggesting restaurants and stores would favor them over individual drink options if a ban on large sizes was put in place.

"Our research shows the New York City ban on large-sized drinks may have unintended consequences that policy makers need to consider. Sugary drinks are a major source of business revenue, and businesses will adjust their menus in order to maximize profits," Wilson said in a statement.

The study did not measure actual consumption of soda but noted participants were told to make purchases as if it were only for themselves. People still could have chosen pack options with the intention of sharing.

The study also noted some "inconveniences" of packaging drinks into bundles, like the having to carry two, that could deter people.

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Related:

(H/T: Eurekalert)

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