On Thursday September 13th, the New York City Board of Health made a highly controversial decision to ban the sale of large sugary drinks in restaurants and other venues. This decision was based on the initiative that Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed in hopes of reducing the rate of obesity though what he calls “portion control”. The historical vote tallied 8 for the ban with one member abstaining and one member absent.
The ban will officially begin on March 12th. However, this ban doesn’t eliminate the sale of sugary drinks altogether, it just eliminates the sale of sugary drinks over the size of 16 ounces. This regulation will apply to restaurants, movie theaters, food carts and more. A seller will receive a substantial fine if they are caught selling sugary drinks over the size of 16 ounces.
What Is Obesity
Obesity is simply defined as having too much body fat. It’s different than being overweight because it doesn’t factor in lean muscle, bones, water, etc. Men and women with a BMI over 30 are considered obese. However, this score is often inaccurate. Individuals will also require a body fat percentage test to confirm the medical declaration of being obese.
According the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention#, over 35% of American adults are obese. That’s more than one third of the entire American adult population. In 2008, over $147 million dollars was spent on medical costs for obese related issues.
New York was estimated to have a 24.9 percent obesity rate, which was up one percentage point from 2010, according to the CDC. More than half of the adults in New York City are overweight or obese, while roughly 40 percent of kids below 8th grade are overweight or obese.
A study released by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation predict that more than 50% of the American adult population will obese by 2030#.
Health Risks Of Obesity
There are numerous health risks associated with obesity including#:
- Heart disease
- Diabetes (Type 2)
- High blood pressure
- Problems With Breathing
- Arthritis and other joint issues
- Gallbladder disease
- Various forms of cancer
Definition Of A Sugary Drink
According to the WallStreet Journal#, a sugary drink is defined as:
“any beverage sweetened with sugar or another caloric sweetener that contains more than 25 calories per 8 fluid ounces and contains less than 51% milk or milk substitute by volume as an ingredient.”
This ban does not include milk shakes, lattes, diet sodas, and sports drinks. However, it could include some lesser quality energy drink.
Opposition Of The Ban
To say that this ban has been greatly opposed is an understatement. A spokesman for the coalition New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, says that more than 250,000 New Yorkers and 2.100 businesses have signed a petition in opposition of this ban. However, most critics of this ban believed that they had no chance in preventing this proposal from being approved. The opposition points out the fact that Mayor Bloomberg handpicked most of the members of the health board.
Previous Bloomberg Initiatives
This isn’t Bloomberg’s first rodeo with opposition over his health bans. The health conscious Mayor has had several health initiatives in the past that was initially met with harsh opposition. In 2002, Bloomberg got the city council to ban cigarettes at bars and restaurants. This law spread throughout America and has been adopted by almost every state. Other past Bloomberg initiatives included a ban on trans fatty acids and requiring caloric data on menus. There’s also a movement growing to address the situation of too much salt in public foods.
With over a decade in the health and fitness industry, it’s this columnist’s opinion that Bloomberg’s initiative to ban large size sugary drinks is a great thing for helping to curb obesity on a larger scale. Most sugary drinks are filled with calories, empty calories and additional non-essential ingredients. America needs to wake up and realize that obesity is an epidemic and unless more individuals like Mayor Bloomberg step up and make bans like this, then this country is in for serious trouble.
For those opposing this ban, it’s not like you still can’t purchase these drinks. You just can’t purchase larger sizes. Additionally, you are not banned from getting refills. Is the opposition too lazy to get up and walk over to refill their own cup? Perhaps, this ban will even lower the costs for a family of 4 to go to the movie theaters. I doubt it, but one can hope.
Ultimately, any initiative that helps to prevent this country from eating/drinking themselves to death is a good thing in my opinion. Let’s hope other cities will follow Bloomberg’s lead and step up to take on the responsibility of public health. It’s clear that over 1/3rd of the American adults are unable to take responsibility.