The NYC Dept of Health estimates that 30% of adult New Yorkers have one sugar-added beverage per day. 20 years ago there were 10oz bottle in vending machines, then 12oz cans, now also 20oz bottles, thus, those consuming a bottle a day today now consume 52 lbs of sugar per year compared with 26 lbs 20 or so years ago.
Many of the poor (and others) have no idea how many sugar calories they are consuming each year when they drink Coke and other sugar-added beverages.
Besides tobacco use, obesity and lack of exercise is one of the major contributors to our increased health care costs.
The previous NY Mayor, Bloomberg, tried to have a state tax on sugar-added beverages passed which is what is recommended by public health officials such as the CDC but that was turned down. Then he lobbied the Federal Government to not allow food stamps to be used for sugar-added beverages but that was turned down. Then the health dept. tried to ensure that in venues where they had control that sugar-added beverages would have a 16oz size limit, but they lost in court.
Ironically, the land for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which is located in Atlanta, Georgia was donated by none other than The Coca Cola Company.
Portion sizes for everything are so incredibly out of whack; it's ridiculous. If you convince people people that a 3 gallon smoothie is "regular" size, you move more product and make more money - who cares if everyone gets fat as a side effect.
Best thing to do is start using an app like LoseIt or MyFitnessPal like a total maniac and start observing your exact dietary intake. Use a food scale!!!
You'll start to notice where you're going wrong each day, and can spot trends after a few months. It's worth the hassle.
At the end of the day, calories are still most linked to your weight, which is your first and foremost problem. Your body composition can then be further aided by a proper macronutrient ratio (ie more protein), and of course general health with proper fruit and vegetable intake.
That's the trifecta of dieting:
* Caloric monitoring / maintenance / sub-maintenance
* High Protein
* High Veggie and Fruit
After that, let the carbs and fats fall where they may, whatever works best for you. Just note that it's easiest to do one or the other (low-fat or low-carb), but not impossible to be balanced if you're tracking well.
removing sodas (and other corn syrup stuff) is amazing step, what about a bit more movement? try walk, start with shorter, make them longer over time. find something to enjoy on these changes, that helps motivation a lot.
be persistent, don't make petty excuses why to skip it, and give it all a bit of time. learn to enjoy sweat - it means you're doing something good for yourself ;)
Check "That Sugar Film": http://thatsugarfilm.com/
One area that could "help" (though at the same time I don't think that governments should regulate this), is for instance in the fast food meal concept of the "combo." I drink almost 100% water, and don't like soft drinks. When I occasionally eat fast food, I experience the following: (a) it is often difficult to navigate the menu, since it emphasizes the combos, and sometimes the price of individual items are not clearly labelled, and (b) I spend more time in line explaining what I want, sometimes having to insist several times that I do not want the combo meal. And to clarify, almost every time I've done the math, it works out advantageously from a price perspective for me to avoid the combo instead of just purchasing the combo and requesting water as the beverage. But given this experience, I can see how if you weren't dedicated to drinking water you would concede, and once you've paid for a drink, you "might as well" get a soft drink.
I'm also quite surprised at how frequently I run into situations at airports, food courts, sports venues, etc. where you either (a) the only form of water is bottled water and costs as much or more than soft drinks, (b) you can purchase a cup of water, but it costs you as much as a soft drink, or (c) in the most extreme cases water is not even available for consumption even if one wanted to pay. I recently experienced the latter. So perhaps if we were going to regulate something, perhaps it should be ensuring that all food establishments provide water as a beverage, and furthermore if we want to encourage consumption of water perhaps there should be some form of price cap, for instance that it can't be priced more than X% of cost to provide the "service." Though I typically think that regulation should be kept minimal, this may be something that could be good for the public.