Size Matters

By Claire Moulin, Departmental Research Analyst, Euromonitor International | June 15, 2012

On May 31st, New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, announced a new anti-obesity initiative involving a ban on the sale of large sugary drinks (with more than 25 calories per ounce), which includes sizes of 16 oz. or more. Feedback ran the gamut, from positive support to criticism against the “nanny state” measure.
We live in a society where “bigger is better” when it comes to food, houses, cars, salaries, etc. Restaurants compete on which can offer the largest, biggest, fattest food option, so much so that most have lost sight of what a normal portion size should be.
The success of calorie-counting apps, which help track food and drink intake, is an easy, sensible solution for dieting consumers. But while the idea of portion control makes sense, it is not without its issues. The inherent problem with portion control is that consumers frequently complain of not being satisfied, and eventually regard it as punishment. Also, what’s to stop them from having 2 or 3 portions if they don’t feel full?
This new regulation in New York City shines a new light on portion control. It is a chance to change consumers’ perception. In other words, if they don’t have the choice of a larger portion in front of them in the first place, they won’t feel like they are missing out.
Meanwhile, this is a great opportunity for health and wellness advocates to promote their own products as alternatives to those large drinks. In this vein, the “shot” should be well received, especially as large, over-the-top formats continue to fall from grace. The good news is there is plenty of room in this “battle of the size” to educate consumers on what they should be consuming, and re-education them on how much they should be consuming.

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