Friday, June 22, 2012

Diabetes doctors back soda ban plan

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to put a cap on soda portions has been backed by a group of doctors in the United States.

A majority of Americans oppose the plan, considering it an unwelcome government intervention in their daily diets.

However, doctors who are treating diabetes patients believe that the state should do more to protect people from a food industry that seems bent on feeding them even bigger and, mostly, unhealthy, portions.

By latest count, more than two-thirds of the adults in the United States are either overweight or obese; excess weight contributes to health problems from diabetes to hypertension.

Obesity accounts for $190 billion in annual medical costs in the United States – or almost 21 per cent of the total, according to a recent study.

On an average, obese individuals incur $2,741 higher medical bills each year than other people do.

Sugary drinks have become the latest target in the fight against burgeoning obesity in the United States because the American Medical Association has estimated that 46 per cent of the nation’s intake of added sugars came from beverages.

It also believes that increasing taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages to a penny per ounce would lead to a 5 per cent drop in the prevalence of people who are overweight and obese, and cut medical costs by $17 billion within a decade.

Bloomberg’s large soda ban plan, tabled earlier this month, has found favor with healthcare professionals and experts who believe that sugar drinks only provide a lot of useless calories – with neither fat nor protein to counter that.

However, Coca-Cola Co has called the Bloomberg proposal an insult to New Yorkers.

The American Beverage Association, which represents the company as well as PepsiCo Inc and other soda makers, is fighting the measure.

New York City’s Board of Health is expected to vote on the measure by September and if approved, the regulations would take effect in March.

However, a court challenge looms.

Opponents, including a coalition of the beverage association, the National Restaurant Association, the National Association of Theatre Owners and others, are considering their options.

“We’re watching developments, but I can’t tell you at this point what we will do” in terms of legal or other strategy, said Gary Klein, general counsel of the theater owners group.

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