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New York City has thrown down the gauntlet in the war against obesity, passing a groundbreaking measure that prohibits the sale of large sodas in city restaurants, stadiums and movie theaters.
Proposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the ban on sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces was approved by the city's board of health today.
“It’s time to face the facts: obesity is one of America’s most deadly problems, and sugary beverages are a leading cause of it. As the size of sugary drinks has grown, so have our waistlines - and so have diabetes and heart disease,” Bloomberg said in a statement earlier this month.
One in 8 New Yorkers has diabetes. Roughly 58% of NYC’s adults are either overweight or obese. NYC spends roughly $4 billion each year in medical bills for overweight people.
While these were the main statistics driving the NYC Board of Health’s push for the ban, it's not the first ambitious bit of legislation aimed at improving the health of city residents. The Big Apple has already banned hydrogenated oils and trans fats, revolutionizing the way French fries are cooked.
However, critics have commented that banning unhealthy food and drinks isn’t going to magically solve the problem.
Eliot Hoff of New Yorkers for Beverage Choices says, “What we need in New York are sensible solutions to the obesity issue that focus on a comprehensive approach to tackle an extremely complex problem. New Yorkers are smart enough to decide for themselves what to eat and drink.”
Perhaps bans of this nature would be more effective if they were partnered with positive reinforcement. For example, a boost in 401K assistance for employees who actively use a gym membership, or tax rebates for purchasing healthy foods.
How do you feel about the government making laws about food?