September 13, 2012
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NYC health officials approve ban on large sugary drinks

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New York City health officials voted 8-0 with one abstention in favor of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and his administration’s proposal to limit the size of sugary beverages sold in food service establishments to 16 oz, according to a news release.

“This is the biggest step a city has taken to curb obesity,” Bloomberg said in a news release. “Simply by proposing limits on sugary drinks, New York City pushed the issue of obesity — and the impact of sugary beverages — onto the national stage. The Board of Health’s passing this proposal means that New Yorkers will soon consume fewer junk calories and eventually begin turning the tide of the obesity epidemic that is destroying the health of far too many of our citizens.”

The mayor’s administration proposed the regulation in May to tackle the upward trend in obesity. According to the news release, beverages containing less than 25 calories per 8 oz, and those that are more than 50% milk or 100% fruit or vegetable juice, will not be affected by the new measure. However, all self-service cups or containers will be restricted to a size limitation of 16 fluid oz.

“Today’s vote is a historic and important step in fighting New York City’s epidemics of obesity and diabetes. It continues the long tradition of this Board of Health leading the charge against major health problems of the day,” Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, MD, MPH, said in a news release. “It is my hope that in the future we will see today as a turning point in epidemics that each year claims the lives of thousands of New Yorkers.”

Bloomberg’s proposal was introduced at the June 12 Board of Health meeting and was open for public comment through July 24. At that time, a public hearing was held before the health officials, and the board received more than 38,000 written comments and 55 testimonies from city residents.

The new regulation will be enforced by the city’s regular health inspection process. Food service establishments, including restaurants, mobile food carts, delis and concessions at movie theaters, stadiums and arenas have until March 12 to adjust their menu boards, as well as cup and container sizes, to be in compliance with the regulation, according to the news release.

Other measures implemented by Bloomberg’s administration have included the ban of smoking in bars and restaurants and the requirement for calorie counts to be posted at restaurant chains.