NYC Seeks Soft Drink Ban to Combat Obesity

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The mayor of New York City is seeking to ban the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks in an effort to combat obesity.

The proposed ban would impose a 16-ounce limit on the size of sweetened drinks sold at restaurants and movie theaters.

Citing what he says is the contribution sugary beverages make to obesity in the United States, Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the buck and the big Dr. Pepper stops with him.

"Obesity is a nationwide problem, and all over the United States, public health officials are wringing their hans 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," Bloomberg told The New York Times.

The ban would affect the entire menus of popular sugary drinks found in delis, fast food franchises an even sports areas, from energy drinks to pre-sweetened iced teas. 

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Many of those drinks contain high fructose corn syrup. 

A growing number scientists warn that high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS,  is worse than table sugar.

During an interview with CBN News' Lori Johnson, Cardiologist Stephen Sinatra of Heart MD Institute explained, "I really worry about high fructose corn syrup. It's becoming part of our culture and it just shouldn't be."

"High fructose corn syrup is every bit as bad for the diet as sucrose, table sugar. It's every bit as bad.  But it's not worse. It's the equivalent of," Dr. Arthur Frank of George Washington University's Weight Management Program commented.

Experts agree that obesity in America is becoming a costly epidemic to the body and the wallet.

Sinatra said, "Sugar does damage to the body, and it's one of the major factors for insulin resistance syndrome we're seeing in this country especially in young kids."

Doctors say obesity can cause heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and possibly even autism. It also costs an obese person almost $3,000 more per year on medical costs than a regular weight person. 

Ban Gets Mixed Reviews

Some people in New York praised Bloomberg's action.

"I think about 16 ounces is reasonable. I think it's a good way to send a message that he's supporting healthier lifestyles," one resident commented.

Another said, "Over indulging is never a good thing.  Everything in moderation I thinks that's a good idea to promote."

Some residents disagree with the move.

"Well, I don't think it's the mayor's job to just decide what sort of soft drinks that people in manhattan or anywhere in the world want to buy for that matter," one man said.

A spokesman for the New York City Beverage Association Stefan Friedman, criticized the proposal as "zealous."  He said officials should seek solutions that are actually going to curb obesity.

"There they go again," the association said in a statement.  "The New York City Health Department's unhealthy obsession with attacking soft drinks is again pushing them over the top. The city is not going to address the obesity issue by attacking soda, because soda is not driving the obesity rates."

Bloomberg's War on Obesity

The proposal requires the approval of the city's Board of Health, which is considered likely because its members are all appointed by Bloomberg.

Under the three-term mayor, the city has campaigned aggressively against obesity, including outlawing trans-fats in restaurant food and forcing chain restaurants to post calorie counts on menus.

The Bloomberg administration has tried other ways to make soda consumption less appealing.  The mayor supported a state tax on sodas, but the measure died in Albany. He then tried to restrict the use of food stamps to buy sodas, an idea federal regulators rejected.

City Hall's latest proposal does not require outside approval, although public hearings will be held.

The ban will take effect next March if it is approved.

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Charlene  Aaron

Charlene Aaron

CBN News Reporter

Charlene Aaron serves as a general assignment reporter and helps anchor for the CBN News Channel.  Follow her on Twitter @CharNews and "like" her at Facebook.com/CharleneIsraelCBNNews.