A behavior economist at Cornell University criticized Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed soda ban, at a press conference hosted by the Weill Cornell Medical College this morning.
Professor David Just said that the soda ban implies a restriction on people’s freedom, causing many to rebel, which will do the exact opposite of what the policy is designed to do.
“Anytime you throw some kind of policy that works to restrict freedom, individuals are going to put up some kind of resistance that’s going to erode its effectiveness,” he said.
This summer, Bloomberg announced he wants to outlaw sugary sodas larger than 16 ounces.
Just also said that he’s seen many policies similar to the soda ban fail because they were not well-tested or tested at all.
“People who prefer larger sodas are most likely going to find some way to overcome this ban,” he said. “Rather than targeting obesity, the ban will incite some sort of rebellion from those who feel their freedom is restricted.”
Just has studied school lunch programs, as well as how behavioral economics can be applied to child nutrition programs.
Just said that he believes there are other policies that should be implemented that would effectively target obesity.
“What would happen in New York City went to soda companies and asked for those companies to have smaller sizes available?” he asked.
He also suggested regulating or even manipulating sizes so people think they’re eating more than they actually are.
“According to my research, if you call something a ‘regular’ size, people are going to eat all of it,” he said. “But if you call it and extra-large, people will only eat about 75 percent of it, thus reducing calories.”