Food Marketing and Obesity

HUNTINGTON W.Va. (WSAZ) -- America's weight problem is getting worse.

Just last week, we told you that experts predict more than half of all the people in 39 states will be obese by the year 2030. Regulators are hoping changes in the way food is marketed will help keep some of those numbers down.

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, McDonald's is now listing calorie information on menus in 14,000 restaurants. A new law requiring that takes effect 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, although some have objected.

"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," said Eliot Hoff, spokesperson for New Yorkers for Beverage Choices.

The ban applies to ballparks, restaurants, movie theaters and food trucks and is something New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been standing behind the whole way.

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

The question now: will posting calorie counts and banning those big gulps actually work?

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

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," Brownell said. "This provides lots of natural experiments that you can use to converge on a small set of bets practices."

Experts say the conversation alone is healthy because people are paying more attention to the obesity problem. Also, in all levels of government, officials are starting to talk about what they can do and should do.

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