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New York Sugary Drink Ban Targets Obesity

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has campaigned relentlessly against obesity, outlawing transfats in restaurants and forcing chain restaurants to add calorie counts to menus. His latest proposal would ban sugary drinks over 450 grams in the city’s restaurants, movie theaters and other places where large drinks are sold. Some nutritionists say it’s a move in the right direction, but critics say the mayor is going too far..

Do you really need 450 grams, 560 grams, 900 grams of sugary soda? These are all quantities regularly sold and consumed in the United States.

Mayor Bloomberg said “enough” with his proposed ban on the sale of super-sized sugary drinks. Some New Yorkers aren’t pleased.

“What kind of a state is this? We can’t even drink soda for crying out loud,” one woman complained.

“This is a democracy and we should have a choice as to what kind of soda we want to drink,” another woman said.

David Almasi of the conservative-leaning National Center for Public Policy Research is against the mayor’s proposal.

“In the case of what he has suggested he wants to do ... you can go into a restaurant and you can buy a 40 ounce [1134 gram] beer, but you can’t buy a 40 ounce [1134 gram] Coke,” Almasi said.

American 7-11 convenience stores sell the Super Big Gulp, a 32-ounce (907 gram) soda. New York City officials cite a 2006 study which argues that sugary drinks are linked to long-term obesity and increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.

“Why does somebody need 32 ounces [907 grams] of liquid sugar?" concurs nutritionist Claire LeBrun. "There is no nutrient value in there. It just gives you extra calories that you are going to end up storing as fat.”

LeBrun notes that the more sugar you get, the more you want.

“To be honest with you, I was addicted to Coke. And right now I am having a hard time quitting,” one man admitted.

Many New Yorkers VOA spoke to support the ban.

“I actually think it’s a good idea," a bystander said. "And being a little bit overweight myself … I noticed you looking at my stomach there.”

The proposed ban on large sugary drinks must be approved by New York City’s Board of Health. That is likely -- Mayor Bloomberg appointed all of its members.