Saturday, October 13, 2012

The great cola ban war begins!

As expected, the big guns have, indeed, come out blazing!
Soda manufacturers, restaurateurs and other businesses have sued New York City over its plan to restrict the sales of super-sized calorie-filled, sugary drinks in its efforts to check runaway rates of obesity.
Exactly a month ago, the city’s Board of Health approved a motion to limit the size of sweetened beverages to 16 ounces or less at restaurants, street carts and entertainment and sports venues.
The suit, filed in the State Supreme Court in Manhattan, contends that the board did not have the authority to ratify the rules unilaterally.
It also claims “the Board of Health’s decision … usurps the role of the City Council, violating core principles of democratic government and ignoring the rights of the people of New York City to make their own choices”.
The American Beverage Association's 61-page filing says, among other things, that the Board of Health adopted the ban, first proposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, completely ignoring the public objection of 17 members of the City Council, the legislative body elected by the people.
However, the mayor’s office dismissed the lawsuit as “baseless”, maintaining that the Board of Health “absolutely has the authority to regulate matters affecting health, and the obesity crisis killing nearly 6,000 New Yorkers a year”.
Runaway obesity rates are threatening not just New York.
A report, titled F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2012, says that the number of obese adults will increase dramatically in every state in the country over the next two decades – and along with it related disease rates and health care costs.
Which means, by 2030 more than half the population in the United States will be obese – if corrective measures are not taken, starting now.
Obesity increases the risk of heart diseases, diabetes, hypertension and other chronic illnesses.
Obesity is defined as having a Body Mass Index above 30, while overweight means a Body Mass Index of between 25 and 29.9.
The ban, scheduled to take effect in March 2013, applies to any establishment, in New York City’s five boroughs, with a food-service license, including fast-restaurants, workplace cafeterias, delis, movie and Broadway theaters, the concession stands at Yankee Stadium and the pizzerias of Little Italy.
Violations would incur a fine of $200.
Interestingly, the lawsuit’s preliminary statement starts thus:
“This case is not about obesity in New York City or the motives of the Board of Health in adopting the rule being challenged.”
Further on it says, “The ban at issue in this case burdens consumers and unfairly harms small businesses at a time when we can ill afford it.”
The bottom line here seems to be that the soft drinks industry would stand to lose a considerable sum of money should Bloomberg’s ban come to fruition.
Besides, if everybody agrees that obesity rates need to be brought down, shouldn’t they welcome any, or all, steps taken to achieve that?
In related news:
Controversial designer Karl Lagerfeld says Obesity is more dangerous than being overweight.
A study shows that nearly 50 per cent of students at Sultan Qaboos University are either overweight or obese.
Obesity is on the rise in children as well as adults in Vietnam, says a report.

Do you think the soft drinks industry is right in challenging New York City’s ban on super-sized sugary beverages? Please leave your comments below.

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