New York bans sale of large sugary drinks in obesity crackdown

Soft drink cups sized at 32 ounces and 64 ounces are displayed at a news conference at City Hall in New York. Credit: Reuters

New York is to ban drinks vendors from selling super-sized sugary soft drinks over 16 ounces (453 grams) in a new policy introduced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The unprecedented ban, which the city's Mayor said will "help save lives," has angered fizzy drinks industries, which fear other cities will follow suit. The Government has also been accused of interfering in consumers' personal choices.

Mayor Bloomberg's official Twitter feed commented on the ban:

New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, a lobby group sponsored by the soft drinks industry, is considering a lawsuit now that the ban has gone ahead, according to spokesman Eliot Hoff.

However, with obesity affecting two-thirds of the US adult population and almost a third of American children, many nutrition experts and doctors have supported the move.

Dr. Jeffrey Mechanick, a professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, has studied the effect of Government regulation on the country's growing obesity problem.

"Ultimately it does come down to culture, and it comes down to taking some first steps," he said.

The ban, which is due to come into force in six months time, does not apply to diet soft drinks or water, alcoholic drinks, or beverages containing more than 50 percent milk, or 70 percent juice. Nor does it cover large drinks that are sold in supermarkets or grocery stores.

It primarily applies to cups and bottles of sugary drinks sold in cafes, restaurants, cinemas, theatres and most other places serving fast food - including workplace canteens. Anyone found to be flouting the ban by city restaurant inspectors faces a $200 fine.

New York has already taken measures to clamp down on obesity by forcing restaurants to clearly display the calorie count of dishes on their menus and banning eateries from using artificial trans fats.