Goodbye, Big Soda: New York Becomes First City to Ban Large-Sized Soft Drinks

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On Thursday the New York City Health Department became the first in the nation to ban the sale of sugared beverages larger than 16 oz. at restaurants, mobile food carts, sports arenas and movie theaters.

It’s a bold experiment in the anti-obesity campaign, and while it’s widely supported by health professionals, it’s not popular with food retailers or most city residents.

The ban would prevent retailers who sell prepared food from also dispensing sugared beverages, including sodas and sweetened tea, in cups or containers larger than 16 oz. That’s smaller than your standard single-serve soda (typically 20 oz.), which you’ll no longer find at fast-food restaurants or cafeterias. Grocery stores and convenience stores, including 7-Eleven, which sells the jumbo-sized Big Gulp, would be exempt from the law, however. And the ban would not apply to fruit juices, alcoholic beverages, diet sodas or dairy-based drinks like milkshakes.

The ban on large drinks was championed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has a reputation for taking aggressive steps to improve city residents’ health. Often criticized for creating a nanny state, Bloomberg has been at the forefront of finding innovative, if controversial ways of nudging people to make healthier choices. Since he took office more than a decade ago, New York has become the first city to require chain restaurants to post calorie counts on their menus (the move prompted a federal law that compelled all fast food retailers in the nation to do the same) and to ban trans fats from restaurant foods. Bloomberg also banned public smoking from most corners of the city and more recently pushed hospitals to keep baby formula locked up in order to encourage breast-feeding in new moms.

(MORE: The New York City Soda Ban, and a Brief History of Bloomberg’s Nudges)

With at least two-thirds of American adults now considered overweight or obese — including more than half of New York City adults and nearly 40% of the city’s public elementary and middle school students — fighting obesity is one of the mayor’s signature causes, and sugary drinks a longtime target. In 2010, he proposed barring recipients of food stamps from using their benefits to purchase sugary beverages, a policy the federal government opposed. Last spring, he went after Big Soda again, with the proposal to ban super-sized drinks, and this time the measure was approved by the city’s health board by a vote of eight to zero.

One member of the board, Dr. Sixto Caro, abstained, noting, “I am still skeptical. This is not comprehensive enough,” the Associated Press reported.

That’s why some health officials, as well as the restaurant and beverage industry, are critical of the ban. Why single out sugared sodas, they ask; obesity has many causes and contributors, not just what people drink. And if sugared beverages are being targeted, why not take stronger measures against other sources of sugar, such as candy and other sweets? Pointing out that the average New Yorker goes to the movies just four times a year and buys concessions only twice, Sun Dee Larson, a spokeswoman for the AMC Theaters chain told the AP, “We firmly believe the choices made during the other 363 days have a much greater impact on public health.”

But the city’s health board members remain convinced that banning mega-sized drinks would be an important step toward helping consumers not only to drink fewer calories, but also hopefully to make healthier changes to their diet more broadly.

They also noted that evidence clearly shows that sugary drinks contribute to the obesity epidemic: the board reviewed data showing that sugared drinks make up 43% of the added sugar in the average American diet. Further, a 20-oz. serving of Coke contains 240 calories, compared with 200 calories in a 16-oz. size; for people who drink a soda a day, that adds up to an extra 14,600 calories a year, or about 70 Hershey chocolate bars, the AP reported. That could account for an added 4 lbs. of weight gain a year.

(MORE: From the NYC Soda Ban Hearing: The Best Arguments For and Against)

The board members said they had listen carefully to the three months of feedback from the public, when people were invited to comment on the proposed ruling. The health department says it received 32,000 comments in support of the ban and 6,000 against it. A recent poll by the New York Times, however, found that the majority of New Yorkers in every borough were against it.

Among those critical of the measure is New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, a coalition of individuals, companies and other groups that says it has collected more than 250,000 signatures from New Yorkers who feel that the new policy unfairly impinges on their right to choose what they drink. Restaurateurs and retailers, including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and McDonald’s, are also upset over what they see as a discriminatory policy that could hurt certain businesses while rewarding others. In a statement posted on its website, the group said it would continue to challenge the ruling, including taking their concerns to court. “The fix was in from the beginning, and the Mayor’s handpicked board followed their orders by passing this discriminatory ban; but it has not passed with the support of New Yorkers,” Liz Berman, the coalition’s chairwoman, said in the statement. “We are smart enough to make our own decisions about what to eat and drink.”

Mayor Bloomberg has noted that the ban doesn’t prevent people from purchasing multiple 16-oz. sodas if they wish, but health officials hope that the inconvenience of doing so will eventually curb consumption of sugared drinks.

If legally challenged, the ban, which is expected to go into effect next March, could be delayed. Once it takes effect, the city will allow a grace period of several months during which it will let retailers know when they’re not in compliance. After that, the city will fine businesses $200 for violations.

Alice Park is a writer at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @aliceparkny. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

398 comments
allyjindal
allyjindal

Its really a good initiative from government for banning this type of products. This show the government is much more conscious about the health of the people staying there. i hope people will also take this initiative in positive way. According to the market research reports United States] in every 100 deaths is caused by beverages.


http://www.researchonunitedstates.com/

iluvmyhersh
iluvmyhersh

I wonder if he has a glass of wine at dinner.  An 16oz glass of wine has 386 calories. A 16 oz glass of coke has 198 calories.   Our supposed home of the free is turning more and more communist every day and what is sad is that we are allowing it. Everyday more and more laws are passed saying what and how much we can have or do.  Those in office are supposed to be working for us and the good of all even if it goes against their beliefs. Yet they are passing laws on the basis of what they believe in and not what the people want.   This is the lamest law.  To think all the money and time  that was spent to write up this law and get it passed. Not serving a large size soft drink is not going to stop obesity. Healthy food choices start at home. I wonder if he is also going to ban his police from eating glazed doughnuts.

dangrs158
dangrs158

I guess it will be ok for the illegal alien to serve me but the cops will come and get that bad guy with the large soda.

Camike1
Camike1

That’s how it works the people in power forcing there will on the rest of us. I don’t even like coke but I think I’ll go down and get a 32oz right now and do whatever the f….. I want with it while I still can.

rosstaylor2440
rosstaylor2440

This was great news, its good thing government much conscious about the peoples health, other fatty things should be banned or have to put some limitation on the usage in the regular food.

Food Beverages Industry Report

MyfaceYourspace
MyfaceYourspace

i don't see what the problem is . none of the drinks have sugar in themany way. its a now all High-fructose corn syrup and not sugar

kingoden
kingoden

@brandondaily do you even understand what is being banned? You can still walk into 7/11 and buy a 64oz Super Big Gulp.

onaturalia
onaturalia

Telling people what to eat is not 'innovative'. People have to decide for themselves what is good or bad. Bloomberg is an idiot.

PatThe Rat
PatThe Rat

They'll ban sodas but not cigarettes? If the people re-elect Bloomberg, they're nuts!

Gregg Shore
Gregg Shore

Good bye Big Soda? It should be titled Good Bye Healthy Choices. Allow me to explain how ridiculous this misguided ban is; I can no longer enjoy my favorite tea which contains only 70 calories, but, only comes in a 16.9 oz bottle (.5L), but, I can still purchase my favorite soda which contains 200 calories and comes in a 16 oz bottle. The short-sided, narrow-minded "ruling" of the appointed NYC Board of Health does nothing to address the obesity epidemic but certainly means I can still drink a 200 calorie soda with my meal. Mayor Bloomberg and his BOH feel they are doing the public's work for the good of all, because they think they know better than you. When public officials feel they know better than us, they will stop at nothing to continue their "work". To them, the ends justify the means. Except, the "end" may very well be the opposite of what they intended. 

@DrinkPro:twitter 

http://drinkinsider.blogspot.c... 

Angel Ehm
Angel Ehm

Great ban soft drinks which as adults we have the right to buy or not, grow up Gov. do some needed real good and tackle the issue of bullying , get out of our business and do real work.

elbull
elbull

New York City Department of Health released data that shows that 83,750

abortions were performed in New York City in 2010, which translated to

40% of all pregnancies, down from 41% in 2009. AND THIS NUMB NUTS IS

WORRIED ABOUT A FREAKIN’ BIG GULP?

Lloyd Johnson
Lloyd Johnson

So no McDonalds sweet tea in NY? Sad day. Some people actually budget enough calories to treat themselves. Thanks for policing my life for me.

Jo Hoeppner
Jo Hoeppner

It's ok to drink 2 or 3 beers or glasses of wine, it's ok to eat a Big Mac amp; super size fries, but don't you DARE have anything bigger than a 16 ounce soft drink.  Thank GOD there is someone out there watching out for us all. What idiots!

Guest
Guest

A really wise decision, who needs a bucket when you could be moderate? Obesity needs to pay. 

"They also noted that evidence clearly shows that sugary drinks contribute to the obesity epidemic: the board reviewed data showing that sugared drinks make up 43% of the added sugar in the average American diet."

No wonder many Americans are so fat!

gatovar
gatovar

who is guilty, the sofa or the wife?

Alex
Alex

Bring back asbestos! 

Liz14
Liz14

If someone wants to drink more than 16 oz of soda at a time... they can just buy 2 sodas. Oh no, they'll have to pay an extra fifty cents to get their sugar rush. What a tragedy. I can't believe people are getting so worked up about this.

Pamela Cotterill
Pamela Cotterill

I think this is absolutely a freedom of choice, where is the constitutional right?  Those that want more than 16oz will merely buy more than one drink, who makes the extra money then?

Michael Moore
Michael Moore

EDUCATE not LEGISLATE.....  this country is turning into a "dictatorship".  Was the wish of the people? don't think so. What's next? That hamburger?

Choking Kojak
Choking Kojak

So long to big "bubbles," Wall Street. 

:P   

Arina Saher
Arina Saher

 

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EyeDigress
EyeDigress

There can now be no doubt. Food And Art does not pay taxes.

Alvin Kuhn
Alvin Kuhn

Sugars are put into such things as spaghetti sauce (I make home made sauce and never saw any recipe calling for sugar to be added) and pickles.   They put that krap in everything.  WHY?  Because sugar is a drug.  They get us hooked on foods with just enough sugar/addictive drug to fly under our taste buds, and voila!  people are hooked to that brand/product.  I have that beat.   I make my own dishes to avoid the processed poisons they wanna' stuff into us for profit. 

Ic1com29
Ic1com29

What if someone decides we're all too fat because we're sitting around on the Internet to much

Rick Long
Rick Long

 I buy two 16 oz. sugared beverages and one 32 oz. non-sugared beverage. After

the sales is completed I pour out the 32 oz. non-sugared beverage. Then refill

the 32 oz. cup with the two 16 oz. sugared beverages. Could I be charged with a

crime?

bellaluna30
bellaluna30

So, what's to stop someone from purchasing two or three 16 oz beverages? More trash, more litter. If someone wants to get around it, they'll find a way. People always do.

Sabrina Barth
Sabrina Barth

I really don't see what the big deal is. So what if they want a healthier society?? Buy 2 drinks if you need to.  They can't force you eat or drink healthy. 

Fact is, who actually finishes those big drinks??? I am lucky to get through half  of one.

But oh no we shall hear from radical morons that think the government is making them do something..... rolls eyes.........

Alvin Kuhn
Alvin Kuhn

EARLIER REPLY TO:  2INFORM. 

We're still free FOR THE MOST PART.  However,  when they begin chipping away at one little freedom here another little freedom there, it soon becomes a In a land of free people who believe, but more significantly ACT as if they're still free, the curtain must come down very insidiously (if at all) if they're to get away with it.   The more "knuckled under" that the people ACT the more encouraged are the political scum, and thus the more quickly it, like a garage door,  slams down on the citizens .

That's what is admirable about the French (although the media doesn't want us to know) -- their Big Deals threaten their freedom, and they'll storm the relevant building, raze it to the ground, and beat the used food out of the Big-Deals in question.  We?  Were a bunch f*(?in' chumps.  We're too law-abiding and orderly to make dog-food of our bast^%ds.  THAT, folks is what will one day find us stuffed behind razor wire gulags.

Read more: http://healthland.time.com/201... 

CeesTimmerman
CeesTimmerman

@MyfaceYourspace That's what the FDA says, but the most widely used variety of high-fructose corn syrup is HFCS 55(mostly used in soft drinks), approximately 55% fructose and 42% glucose. The table or granulated sugar most customarily used as food is sucrose, splits into 50% fructose and 50% glucose when in contact with acid, as found in the stomach.

brandondaily
brandondaily

@kingoden So I still think that's overstepping but I suppose if we're gonna ask the Gov't for healthcare, they can ask us to be healthier.

brandondaily
brandondaily

@kingoden You're right. They've banned "beverages larger than 16oz at restaurants, mobile food carts, sports arenas & movie theaters."

Lloyd Johnson
Lloyd Johnson

I then use the foam 32oz sweet tea cup as a water cup for the next week. They keep it cold for a long time.

Guest
Guest

Well, the major problem is that obesity cost the health system and tax payers a lot of money. When too many people decide on a dangerous life style authorities need to do something. This is a good start.

foodandart
foodandart

Well, no of course not, Mr. Digress.

Nor do I expect you to pay my way or in any way subsidize my choices - which will never involve self abuse with junk food, though I have been known to occasionally cripple myself at the gym.

Though DO have fun subsidizing an insurer in my name.

Aren't you glad I eschew soda, keep fit and do not need doctors, nor abuse myself with food or treat my health carelessly?

I mean, I *could* be 500+ pounds and a smoker and be diabetic and sticking your soon-to-be-mandatory insurance premiums with associated medical costs..

You wouldn't mind if I did that, no?

tokencode
tokencode

Thank you for bringing to light the evil sugar conspiracy...   do you make your own tin foil for your hats as well?

Lloyd Johnson
Lloyd Johnson

Sugar reduces the bitterness of tomato paste. Any chef knows that.

foodandart
foodandart

Only if you actually *drink* that whizz...

dragonherderx
dragonherderx

@Sabrina Barth I do at mcdonalds or wendys or if i go out to a resturaunt (most soda glasses are a little over 16oz...) The problem is what this is a solution to isn't solved and actually just makes people spend more money so its clearly mroe or less a cash grab rather tahn to "help people" if they want to help people start with nutrition education at school, redo the physical education programs, make sure coaches are not also gym teachers and teach kids to pace themselves and be haelthy and for the love of god stop sitting in front of the tv constantly get out and do something 2 or 3 days a week. Heck 30 minutes of activity a day can keep you healthy and burning fat if you do some small things and eat proper portions with slow carbs instead of fast carbs... A cheat day happens now and then and punishing everyone is silly. Bloomberg needs to pull his head from his rear really.

This does not help anyone is what the big deal is really.... in fact it may hurt people that can't kick themselves from drinking lots of soda... 

JamesLane
JamesLane

All us middle class Americans are NOT ASKING obozonut for healthcare, it was shoved down all our throats!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

kingoden
kingoden

@brandondaily As I pointed out yesterday, the people who are "asking for healthcare" come from red states, consistently.

jblanco.ucla
jblanco.ucla

@Guest How dare you bring logic into this thread!

Vikt
Vikt

No...when too many stupid people decide to live a dangerous lifeftyle, THEY are the ones who should pay for their decisions, not ME.

brandondaily
brandondaily

@kingoden the article you posted earlier? But either way, it doesn't really matter to me. I don't side Rep any more than I do Democrat.

Guest
Guest

Wishful thinking.