New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to propose a far-reaching municipal ban on sales of large-size sugary beverages by restaurants, mobile food carts, movie theaters and delis, his administration said on Wednesday.
A document outlining the proposal said it was aimed at fighting an epidemic of obesity, citing public health statistics showing that 58 percent of New York City adults and nearly 40 percent of city public school students are obese or overweight.
The proposal defines sugary drinks as beverages that are “sweetened with sugar or another caloric sweetener that contain more than 25 calories per 8 fluid ounces and contains less than 51 percent milk or milk substitute by volume as an ingredient.”
It would impact drinks sold in containers larger than 16 ounces, but would not impact the sale of diet soda or dairy-based drinks.
Bloomberg’s efforts to correct unhealthy behaviors have included a campaign to cut down on salt and a ban on trans fats in restaurant food, along with a requirement that chain restaurants display calorie counts.
In 2003, the city banned smoking in bars and restaurants, generating howls of protest at the time from smokers and non-smokers who saw it as a case of government creeping into private lives, but the law has since become widely accepted.
The proposed ban on sugary drinks requires the approval of the city’s Board of Health. It will be submitted to the board on June 12.
In a statement, a spokesman for the New York City Beverage Association challenged Bloomberg’s assertion that the consumption of soda was driving obesity rates.
“It’s time for serious health professionals to move on and seek solutions that are going to actually curb obesity,” said spokesman Stefan Friedman. “These zealous proposals just distract from the hard work that needs to be done on this front.”
by Edith Honan and Steve Gorman