Lifestyle & Belief

Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants large sodas banned in New York


High-fructose corn syrup, a common sweetener found in soft drinks, has been found to interfere with memory and learning, according to a study published on May 15, 2012.


Scott Olson

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to stop the city's restaurants selling sugary sodas in large servings, in a bid to improve public health.

The proposed ban, unveiled by Bloomberg yesterday, would make it illegal for restaurants, movie theaters and street vendors to sell cups or bottles of sweetened drinks any larger than 16 fluid ounces, the New York Times reported.

More from GlobalPost: High-fructose corn syrup alters learning, memory

The sale of anything bigger would be punishable by a $200 fine, according to CBS New York. Nowhere else in the US currently has such a scheme.

The restrictions would not apply to diet sodas, fruit juice, milkshakes or alcohol, while large bottles of any drink would still be legal for sale in grocery and convenience stores.

There are some obvious flaws in the plan, as The Atlantic Wire pointed out: the rules wouldn't stop people buying refills or multiple servings – which could even lead to greater soda consumption if, as the site predicts, "a lot of people who can't buy larger sizes will simply buy two or more smaller sizes (for example; two 12-ounce cans, instead of one 20-ounce bottle)."

More from GlobalPost: Over 40 percent of Americans could be obese by 2030

The beverage industry has already expressed its opposition to the ban. 

A spokesman for the New York City Beverage Association, Stefan Friedman, said the proposal was "over the top" and accused the city Health Department of "an unhealthy obsession with attacking soft drinks," the New York Daily News reported.

The Health Department, however, argues that soda consumption is an important factor in New York's rising obesity rate.

If approved by the Board of Health – whose members are appointed by the mayor – the ban could come into effect as soon as March 2013, the Times said.

Despite, Bloomberg's famous public health crusades, Gothamist reported that just one day after announcing his most radical proposal to combat obesity, a letter from his office will be read at a festival marking the 75th annual National Doughtnut Day tomorrow.

Entenmanns, the pastry company, will read the Mayor's proclamation and "unveil the largest box of Entenmann's Donuts ever created along with custom-made donuts 1-foot in diameter" at Madison Square Park tomorrow.