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New York City Ban on Large Sweetened Drinks is Passed
The controversial and ground-breaking New York City ban on large, sugar-sweetened drinks in restaurants and theaters was just passed, now limiting these establishments from selling high-calorie drinks larger than 16 ounces.
This proposal was first proposed earlier this year by Mayor Bloomberg and received widespread praise and criticism as well as skepticism that it can have any impact on the obesity epidemic in New York and throughout the country. After undergoing many months of review by the New York City Board of Health, the measure was eventually passed on September 13.
According to Mayor Bloomberg, this ruling is similar to the decision to outlaw lead paint. He also pointed to the crisis throughout the country with more young people receiving a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
As it’s unclear if this ban will have any impact on health in the city, critics and public health officials around the country will be watching to see if this new restriction actually helps New Yorkers. If it does, similar measures may eventually be passed in other cities and states.
This ruling is the first time a city in the United States has attempted to fight obesity by limiting portion sizes. It is not, however, the first time the city of New York City has passed laws to improve public health. In the last 10 years, the city has also banned smoking in offices and bars, banned food containing trans fats and made it mandatory for fast-food chains to include the number of calories on every item on their menu.
Who does this ruling affect? The new regulations will cover any business that has a food-service license in the state, including theaters, concession stands and family delis. Exceptions will be made for drinks that are mostly unsweetened juice or milk, although this has made it very hard for some local businesses to comply.
Starbucks, for example, is trying to determine if it will be forbidden to sell a Frappuccino in a size over 16 ounces. While the drink is very high in calories, it has a large percentage of milk. The ruling only allows drinks to be exempt if they are 50% or more milk. Iced coffee also poses a problem as they are usually sweetened. This may mean customers will need to add their own sugar or artificial sweetener after ordering.
Establishments will self-serve fountains will not be allowed to give customers cups over 16 ounces, although customers can still get as many refills as they like.
It remains to be seen whether this ban actually has an impact on public health, especially considering people can still walk into any convenience store and get a larger soda or get refills at a restaurant. There is also a lot of opposition to the ruling with petitions already forming. A recent poll found that 60% of New Yorkers are also opposed to the decision, so there’s a chance it may be overturned.