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New York says no to obesity by banning big sugary drinks

September 13, 2012|By David Lazarus
  • New York has moved to the forefront in battling obesity by banning large-size sugary beverages.
New York has moved to the forefront in battling obesity by banning large-size… (Associated Press )

The war on fat-making, sugar-rushing sodas has begun.

New York City's Board of Health, acting on the wishes of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has adopted a rule banning sales of big sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, concession stands and other venues.

The regulation puts a 16-ounce size limit on cups and bottles of non-diet soda, sweetened teas and other such bad-for-you beverages.

Those needing an intense glucose fix can still obtain big-gulp-size drinks at supermarkets and convenience stores. But they'll have to settle for 16 ounces at fast-food outlets, movie theaters, workplace cafeterias and most other places selling prepared food.

Not surprisingly, the restaurant and beverage industries have called the plan misguided and ill-conceived, saying that sugary drinks are being unfairly blamed for playing a prominent role in the obesity epidemic.

Health experts say otherwise. They say the easy accessibility and ubiquity of sugary beverages makes them the prime suspect in people's expanding waistlines, and that limiting intake could only help make us fitter.

Even with 16 ounces of, say, regular Coke, you're getting about 200 calories, compared with 240 calories for a 20-ounce serving. For someone who drinks a soda a day, that adds up to a difference of about 14,600 calories a year, or the equivalent of 70 Hershey bars.

Is this a nanny-state solutution to the obesity problem? Yep.

But personal responsibility doesn't seem to be getting us anywhere. There are an estimated 1.46 billion overweight adults worldwide, and 502 million of them are considered obese, according to the World Health Organization.

More than half of U.S. adults will be obese by 2030, researchers say, leading to a surge in heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses.

If capping the size of sugary drinks puts a dent in those stats, then good. Other cities and states may want to follow New York's example.

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