New York became the first city in the United States to impose a limited
ban on super-sized soda drinks blamed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg for
fueling a national obesity crisis.
The Board of Health’s formal
approval of the ban — proposed by Bloomberg and hailed by health
campaigners, but hotly opposed by soft drinks manufacturers — was not
considered a surprise.
The city health commissioner, Thomas Farley, called the vote “historic.”
Liz Berman, president of Continental Food and Beverage and head of the
New Yorkers for Beverage Choices lobby group, described the
“discriminatory ban” as a “fix.”
“It’s sad that the board wants
to limit our choices. We are smart enough to make our own decisions
about what to eat and drink,” she said in a statement.
prohibition restricts soda drink servings to a maximum of 16 ounces in
fast-food and other restaurants and places of public entertainment like
stadiums. That’s more than a normal can, but only half the size of the
biggest, bucket-like container that patrons commonly guzzle from in
cinemas, sports arenas and other outlets.
However, there is
nothing to stop people from buying as much soda as they like by
refilling smaller containers. Also, the ban does not extend to drinks
sold in supermarkets or any dairy or fruit drinks, many of which also
contain huge quantities of sugar.
Diet and alcoholic drinks are also exempted.
The measure, which could face legal challenges from the soft drinks industry, takes effect in six months.
to official statistics, some 6,000 people in New York die each year
from obesity-linked problems. One in eight adult New Yorkers has
diabetes, which can be aggravated by sugar consumption.
the measure is very far from being a ban on the over-indulgence of
sugary drinks, the disappearance of mega-sized cups in many
establishments will at least make people more aware of what they’re
consuming, Bloomberg says.
“New Yorkers will soon consume fewer
junk calories and eventually begin turning the tide of the obesity
epidemic that is destroying the health of far too many of our citizens,”
Boosting the mayor, the newly-built basketball stadium
for the Brooklyn Nets announced it will immediately adopt the rules,
well head of the March 12 deadline.
The measure generated a
stormy debate, including 38,000 comments written to the Board of Health.
Polls showed a majority of people opposed the ban.
made public health a key plank of his administration, banning smoking
in restaurants, bars and most lately parks and beaches.
Yorkers for Beverage Choices suggested that Bloomberg is out of control.
“If this now, what’s next?” the group asked on its website.
“NYers want to be heard, not ignored,” the organization Tweeted. “Today’s #NYC Board of Health vote does NOT reflect that.”
skeptics say that the deepening US obesity epidemic can be linked as
much, or more, to lack of exercise or eating too much junk food, like
French fries, as to soda drinks.
Writing in the Daily News on
Thursday, Health Commissioner Farley said the limit on portions at
restaurants wasn’t a cure-all, but that doing nothing was not an option.
epidemic is not a communicable disease like influenza, but it is more
dangerous and more deadly. Obesity causes diseases such as diabetes and
heart attacks. Those diseases kill.”