Today saw the news that the city’s Board of Health has approved Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s controversial plan to limit the amount of large-size sodas and sugary drinks.
According to the plan, all restaurants, delis, movie theaters, fast-food joints, sports stadiums and food carts are not allowed any more to sell sugar-sweetened drinks in cups larger than 16 ounces.
Bloomberg’s preposition was passed by eight members of the city’s mayoral-appointed health board, with one member abstaining, reports BBC.
“This is the single biggest step any city, I think, has ever taken to curb obesity,” Bloomberg said shortly after the vote. “It’s certainly not the last step that lots of cities are going to take, and we believe that it will help save lives.”
When the New York mayor first announced his plan to limit the amount of sodas drinks over three months ago, he caused a nationwide debate about the extent of government control over an individual’s healthcare choices.
“It’s time to face the facts: obesity is one of America’s most deadly problems, and sugary beverages are a leading cause of it,” said Bloomberg in a statement earlier this month. “As the size of sugary drinks has grown, so have our waistlines – and so have diabetes and heart disease.”
Some predict that the passed ban is expected to draw further protest from the soda industry and those concerned about involvement in their personal choices on the governmental level.
“What we need in New York are sensible solutions to the obesity issue that focus on a comprehensive approach to tackle an extremely complex problem,” said Eliot Hoff, a spokesman for a beverage industry-sponsored group called New Yorkers for Beverage Choices.
“New Yorkers are smart enough to decide for themselves what to eat and drink,” he added.
“We are smart enough to make our own decisions about what to eat and drink,” said Liz Berman, a business owner and chair of New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, a soft-drink industry sponsored group.
By the way, dissatisfied with the Board of Health’s decision, including world-known McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, described the plan as “misguided” and “arbitrary,” though Bloomberg has billed it as both a health and fiscal initiative.
A New York Times poll in August showed that 60% of New Yorkers were against the measure.
“The public health issue is so serious that any disincentive to consume sugary drinks in large amounts, I would support,” said Sharon Williams, 71, a pastor who lives in Brooklyn.
“I see it as a public health issue. I don’t see it as a civil liberties issue because if people want the option of having more soda at one time they can do that, they can buy two.”
According to the NY mayor, the city spends up to $4 billion each year on medical care for people suffering obesity.
The statistics, provided by Bloomberg, also claims that one in eight New Yorkers suffer from diabetes, a disease often linked to obesity. About 58% of New York City adults are considered overweight or obese, the mayor added.
“I can’t imagine the board not acting on another problem that is killing 5,000 people per year,” said Dr. Joel A. Forman, a board member and professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
He went, adding: “The evidence strongly supports a relationship between sweet drinks and obesity.”