The New York City Health Department plans to propose a ban on the sale of all sugary drinks 16 ounces or larger in restaurants, fast-food venues, delis, movie theaters and sports arenas.
The ban, supported by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, will be proposed as an amendment to the Health Code at a June 12 meeting of the Board of Health, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
The ban would not affect diet sodas (or any beverage with fewer than 25 calories per 8-ounce serving, such as waters or diet/low-sugar iced teas), fruit juices, dairy-based drinks like milkshakes, or alcoholic beverages; nor would it extend to beverages sold in grocery and convenience stores, reported The New York Times.
In QSRs where beverages are self-serve, operators would have to provide cups 16 ounces or smaller, even when customers order diet drinks; however, free refills would be allowed.
New York's health commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley, states that more than half of the city's adults are obese or overweight, and blames sweetened drinks for more than half of the increase in the city's obesity rates over the past 30 years -- saying more than a third of New Yorkers consume one or more sugary drinks per day, and that obesity rates are higher in neighborhoods where soda consumption is higher.
Obesity is a nationwide problem, and New York City "is not about wringing your hands; it's about doing something," Bloomberg told the Times.
Stefan Friedman, a spokesperson for the New York City Beverage Association, part of the industry's national trade group, labeled the proposal part of the city health department's "unhealthy obsession with attacking soft drinks." He asserted that "It's time for serious health professionals to move on and seek solutions that are going to actually curb obesity. These zealous proposals just distract from the hard work that needs to be done on this front."