The New York City Board of Health passed Mayor Bloomberg's controversial proposal to ban the sale of large sweetened beverages in restaurants, street carts, and movie theaters. The ban, which is the first of its kind in the nation, limits the size of sweetened beverages to 16 ounces. The regulation will go into effect in six months, if it's not stopped by a judge.
Mayor Bloomberg proudly called the measure the "single biggest step any city...has taken to curb obesity".
There has been a lot of debate surrounding this issue since Bloomberg proposed the ban in June. Many critics are blaming Bloomberg for over-reaching and creating a "nanny state" by regulating consumption so narrowly. The organization New Yorkers for Beverage Choice, which is funded by the soft drink industry, asks, on their rather dramatic website: "If this now, what's next?" They worry that this ban could be the first step down a slippery slope leading to more intrusive regulations and behavior limitations.
Bloomberg defends his proposal by citing rising obesity rates in the city—over half of the city's population is overweight (34%) or obese (22%). Proponents of the ban argue that this is more of an educational tactic than a real behavioral restriction. Consumers can still get refills of 16-ounce drinks, buy multiple 16-ounce drinks, or purchase beverages from outlets that are not regulated by the city's Board of Health (7-11 is one example of this type of retailer). By making it harder to consume large sugary beverages, Bloomberg hopes consumers will think harder about the dietary choices they're making.
What do you think? Is the ban a positive step in public health policy? Or is it restricting New Yorkers' freedom to choose what foods they consume?
About the Author: A student in Providence, Rhode Island, Leah Douglas loves learning about, talking about, reading about, and consuming food. Her work has also been featured in Rhode Island Monthly Magazine.