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Washington - New York City’s top health official shot back at critics on Thursday who have blasted the city’s plan to limit the sale of oversized sugary drinks such as soft drinks, calling beverage industry opposition ridiculous.
The proposed ban, which caps most sugar-sweetened beverages at half a litre and carries a $200 fine for vendors that do not comply, met immediate backlash from beverage companies and others who argue it is government overreach, but was lauded by public health experts.
“It’s not saying ‘no’ to people. It’s saying, ‘Are you sure? Do you really want that?’,” Thomas Farley, New York City’s health commissioner, said.
Speaking at a conference in Washington aimed at reducing the consumption of sugary beverages, Farley said beverage makers were following the same action plan as tobacco companies that push back against government action aimed at protecting consumers from harmful products.
Coca-Cola and McDonald’s Corp along with beverage industry groups have said consumers should be able to make their own drink choices and that soft drinks were not to blame for the nation’s soaring obesity rates.
Farley said sugary drink consumption may just be part of the US obesity epidemic but that such products were the largest single source of sugar in the diet and had a major impact on health. Reducing obesity by just 10 percent in New York City would save about 500 lives a year, he added.
The city’s cup-size ban will be submitted on Tuesday to the New York City Board of Health, which will vote on it after a three-month comment period. If approved by the board, the ban would take effect early next year. – Reuters