Banning Soda at Restaurants…misdirected efforts?

California is considering a statewide bill to ban restaurants from serving soda to kids at restaurants; they would only be eligible by state law to be offered milk or water. Sounds like my house, except maybe clarifying that the whole milk (raw preferred) would be from A2 cows, so why not make it the rule for an entire state or country while we are at it?

While not wanting to get into politics in a big way on this page, policies are another matter.

Consider this quote found in the Hill article on this topic1:

The American Cancer Society was a fervent supporter of the bill, CBS reports.

“Some of these kids are drinking up to three sodas a day. This is setting them up for tremendous cancer risks down the road,” Stephanie Winn of the American Cancer Society told KOVR. “Because now we know that 20 percent of all cancers are tied to being overweight.”

Soda’s are bad, agreed. The policy will not change cancer or overweight one bit though in all likelihood.  Consider this quick comparison of Glycemic Index 2, a measure of how much your blood sugar changes after consumption:

Food Name Coca Cola®, soft drink
Food Manufacturer Coca Cola Bottling Company, Atlanta, USA
GI (vs Glucose) 63
Food Name Wholemeal (whole wheat) bread
Food Manufacturer
GI (vs Glucose) 69

So, you go to a restaurant and kids can’t order a soda. Leaving out the fact that parents would NEVER order one and let the kid enjoy or use as bargaining power to sit still, what is the net impact on their health of this ban? Considering many restaurants have free bread or whole grains as a key part of the offering, not much.

So, while the American Cancer Society “fervently” pushed for this bill, might their efforts be better leveraged on education on what feeds cancer? See this previous article “Cancer Loves Sugar” for a possible starting point.

Further, how about fervent efforts in helping cancer patients avoid situations that cause their blood sugar to spike. Two easy targets:

  1. Meals offered during chemo treatments:
    Soda! As well as corn starch (or similar) thickened soups, potato chips, low-fat yogurt, and as this patient was near the end of the room the sandwiches were already all taken. Any guess as to if the cancer had more fuel to grow before or after consuming from this cart?
  2. Blood sugar effects from medications given.
    Many people in the room pictured above also likely had dexamethasone, a steroid, to aid in their treatment. It is known to have a pronounced effect on blood sugar, and not in a good way 3:


    The mean incidence of blood glucose monitoring was 19% and 76% in patients with diabetes and patients without diabetes, respectively. Approximately, 40% of patients with diabetes required an adjustment to their diabetes management and a further 20% required hospitalization. Fifteen patients without diabetes received a fasting blood glucose test, of which 40% had abnormal blood glucose results; half of these fell into the pre-diabetic range and half in the diabetic range. Ten patients without diabetes were tested for diabetes using the CDA criteria for diabetes diagnosis during or after their chemotherapy, of which 30% developed diabetes.


    In order to optimize patient care, blood glucose levels should be monitored in all patients receiving continuous oral corticosteroids as part of their chemotherapy. Future studies should be conducted prospectively to determine the most effective manner of monitoring in order to implement screening guidelines and avoid unnecessary morbidity.

    Wow, people can be exposed to diabetic level blood sugar from this medication alone, a great study would also include those that ate from the lunch cart!

Sodas are problematic unquestionably, less consumption would be welcomed. However, what is missing from this effort, aside from the lack of results obtainable, is the education component. People want to be healthy, and more would be if there was a broader effort to explain what role food choices (and they should remain choices) have in optimizing health.


  1. http://thehill.com/homenews/news/402559-ca-bill-seeks-to-restrict-sugary-drinks-for-kids-in-restaurants
  2. http://www.glycemicindex.com/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25971294

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