Will a soda ban lead to less obesity? NYC plans to find out

Higher soda consumption in certain neighborhoods linked to higher obesity rates

In New York City's latest attempt to curb obesity rates, Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday proposed a ban on the sale of large servings of sodas and sugary drinks in restaurants, sports arenas, and street carts, the New York Times reports.

The proposal—the first of its kind in the United States—could go into effect as early as next March if approved by the city’s Board of Health. According to the Times, the board, whose members were appointed by Bloomberg, is expected to approve the proposal.

The ban would apply to cups or bottles that measure at least 16 fluid ounces. Specifically, it would prevent merchants from selling soda, energy drinks, pre-sweetened coffee drinks, and pre-sweetened iced tea in servings larger than 16 fluid ounces.

The ban would not apply to diet sodas, fruit juices, alcoholic drinks, and dairy-based drinks like milkshakes. It also would not apply to beverages sold in grocery or convenience stores.

About a third of New Yorkers drink one or more sugary drinks a day, according to Health Commissioner Thomas Farley. More than 50% of the city's adults are obese or overweight and obesity rates are higher in neighborhoods where soda consumption is more common, Farley added.

The proposed ban would fall under the same city jurisdiction that Bloomberg used in the past to prohibit artificial trans fats in restaurant foods and cigarette smoking in restaurants and parks.

Bloomberg said that he thinks the proposal reflects "what the public wants the mayor to do,” reports AP/USA Today. Many similar measures proposed by Bloomberg, such as posting calorie counts in restaurants, were initially derided but eventually became models for cities across the nation, the Times notes (Grynbaum, Times, 5/30; AP/USA Today, 5/31).

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