City Holds First Hearing on Mayor's Controversial "Soda Ban"

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by Adel Manoukian The New York City Board of Health will hold a public hearing today at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in Long Island City for the proposal to limit the size of sugary drinks like soda sold in restaurants to 16 ounces or less. The proposal comes from Mayor Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs and Health Commissioner Thomas A. Farley. They joined forces with 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East President George Gresham to push for this as a part of the anti-obesity initiative. Sugary drinks are the leading cause of the nation's obesity epidemic, hence the crackdown. And it truly is an epidemic-nearly 60 percent of adults in NYC are overweight or obese and so are 40 percent of the City's public elementary school students. It has gotten so out of hand that one in eight adult New Yorkers now have Type 2 diabetes, onset by too much sugar. "Limiting the sale of large, sugary sodas will improve our health today and the health of future generations," said 1199SEIU President Gresham at The Ryan-NENA Community Health Center in the Lower East Side recently. "Dozens of studies have shown that soda is a main culprit in the increase in obesity, diabetes and heart disease in communities of color, and thanks to Mayor Bloomberg's leadership, New York City is doing something about it." The portion size limit on the drinks would be effective at restaurants, movie theater concessions, delis and mobile food carts. The issue with sugary drinks is that they do not create a fullness sensation so people continue to eat, adding extra calories to the ones consumed from the drinks. They are cheap and contain no nutritional value. "The war on obesity has to be fought on many fronts, and the Mayor's plan to put sensible limits on the portion size of sugary drinks is an important first step," said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer at the same meeting. "When half of New York City's adult population and 20 percent of our public school students are considered obese, it is the responsibility of government to combat this public health menace as best it can."

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