Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

New York Ban on Big Sodas Faces New Hurdle: New Yorkers

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

New York Ban on Big Sodas Faces New Hurdle: New Yorkers

Article excerpt

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed ban on sugary drinks of more than 16 ounces in restaurants is now open for public comment. A poll shows New Yorkers are against it.

Public opinion has been flowing ever since Mayor Michael Bloomberg last month announced his effort to end super-sized soda guzzling in New York City. Now, New Yorkers will have a chance to weigh in officially on the controversy.

The city's Board of Health unanimously decided Tuesday to open to public comment the plan to limit the size of sugary drinks that restaurants, delis, and cinemas can sell. After that, they'll vote on the proposal.

"Of course, we hope that it is affirmed and that [residents] like it and that the public comment comes back in a way that doesn't give us pause," says Linda Gibbs, deputy mayor for health and human services. "If there is pause from the public comment then we're going to take that into consideration."

The potential ban has captured national attention over the question of how far government should go in legislating public health. A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 64 percent of Americans thought it showed government going too far in regulating people's diets.

But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that Americans are more than 25 pounds heavier than they were in 1960; obesity rates nationwide top 35 percent. The trend has led to great incidence of certain diseases, medical experts say. Studies show that sodas and other sugar-packed nutrition-free drinks are the biggest source of added sugar in American's diets.

Mayor Bloomberg's proposal would prohibit businesses such as restaurants and theaters - though not supermarkets or convenience stores - from selling sugary drinks like soda in containers larger than 16 ounces, which is currently a small McDonald's drink.

Opposition is strong. "New Yorkers expect and deserve better than this. …

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