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NYC to Ban Big Sugary Drinks, Combat Obesity

NYC's Mayor Bloomberg is working on ways to keep things healthy by planning a ban on jumbo sugary drinks in numerous venues.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 5/31/2012, 8:47 AM

Kosher for Passover Coca-Cola in Israel
Kosher for Passover Coca-Cola in Israel
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The Big Apple is working on ways to keep things healthy by planning a ban on the sale of jumbo bottles of sugary soda drinks in numerous venues.

New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg would target with the new ban restaurants, movie theaters, sports arenas, pushcarts on the street, fast-food stands and takeout venues – in short, anything other than a standard supermarket.

Under the new law, fruit juice, milkshakes and other dairy beverages would not be affected. Neither would it affect the so-called “vitamin waters” and unsweetened iced teas, diet sodas and other drinks, alcoholic items or anything sold in grocery or convenience stores. It would not apply to drinks with fewer than 25 calories per 8-ounce serving.

What would be affected would be any container of any form of sweetened drink larger than 16 fluid ounces. The amount is about the size of today's “medium size” cup of coffee at any local takeout doughnut shop. It's about half the size of a standard bottle of cola or other drink purchased at the local supermarket, which is usually about a quart (32 oz).

Sixteen fluid ounces equals a pint – less than half a liter.

In announcing the initiative – the first to be tried in the United States – Bloomberg explained Wednesday that his administration is attempting to target the health issues plaguing families in his city. "Obesity is a nationwide problem and all over the United States, public health officials are wringing their hands saying, 'Oh this is terrible. New York City is not about wringing your hands; it's about doing something. I think that's what the public wants the mayor to do,” he was quoted as saying by the New York Times.

The city's health commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley, backed the inititative, pointing to sweetened drinks as the culprit for up to half the increase in the rate of obesity in the city over the past 30 years.

The law could take effect as early as March 2013.