New York may ban super-sized sugary drinks
After tackling smoking, mayor Michael Bloomberg targets sodas in his health crusade
New York’s billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg extended his war against unhealthy habits with an unprecedented proposal for banning super-sized fizzy drinks and other sugary beverages.
The ban, possibly taking effect by next March, would target what Mr Bloomberg, already a leading crusader for clean living, calls a fatness epidemic.
“There’s an epidemic in this country of people being overweight, bordering on obesity. The percentage of people who are obese is skyrocketing,” Mr Bloomberg said in an interview on MSNBC television.
The prohibition, which would not need city council approval, would restrict soda drink servings to no more than 450 grams or almost half a litre.
That’s more than a normal can, but only half the size of the biggest, bucket-like container that patrons commonly guzzle from in cinemas, sports arenas and other outlets.
The measure would target fast-food and other restaurants, delis and places of public entertainment like stadiums. It would not cover drinks sold in supermarkets or any diet, fruit, dairy or alcoholic drinks.
There was an immediate backlash against what Mr Bloomberg critics see as an attempt to turn America’s largest city into a nanny state.
Smoking has been banned in Big Apple offices, bars, parks and beaches, while mass transport is plastered with gruesome advertising against unhealthy diets.
“There they go again,” the New York City Beverage Association said in a statement. “This unhealthy obsession with attacking soft drinks is again pushing them over the top.”
New York Magazine complained of “heavy-handed” assaults on “many of life’s most enjoyable vices”.
But the mayor, a former smoker, was not apologising. “Sitting around and doing nothing and watching our kids getting fatter and fatter... that’s just not something we should do as a society,” he said.
The Obesity Society lauded Mr Bloomberg’s initiative, stating that “two-thirds of American adults and over half of Canadians are overweight or obese.”