The battle lines have been drawn and the time for reckoning has come!
In what has become a test case of how America handles its burgeoning obesity problem, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s controversial proposal to ban super-sized colas at local restaurants has won unanimous approval from the city’s Board of Health.
Though a final vote is not scheduled until September 13, a public hearing is scheduled for July 24 as the measure enters a 90-day comment period.
If passed, the ban – the first of its king in the United States – could take effect by March next year.
New York City's Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley says the ban has become necessary because the obesity problem has reached crisis proportions and sugary soft drinks bear a disproportionate share of the blame for making people fat.
Obesity kills 5,800 people every year in New York City, the Health Department says. Diabetes, a disease that can be linked to obesity, kills 1,700 more people. An additional 2,600 are admitted to hospital for limb amputations from diabetes complications.
City health officials estimate that treating health problems caused primarily by obesity in New York City costs $4 billion per year.
The ban would apply to any beverage with more than 25 calories per 8 fluid ounces. Coca-Cola and Pepsi are both about 100 calories per 8 ounces.
However, in an alarming development, some New York City Board of Health members went a step ahead and wondered why the city wasn’t going further and limiting portion sizes of other popular high-calorie foods, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Bloomberg's plan has been met with wide opposition by the beverage and restaurant industries.
Andrew Moesel, a spokesman for the New York City Restaurant Association, says: “Some of the board members seemed to think that the proposal didn't go far enough, and I found that very alarming."
He said his organization would consider legal action.