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New York puts pressure on supper sized soft drinks

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has earned himself recognition by actively participating in campaigns that aim to promote public health by coming up with tough measures on transfats, smoking, calorie-labelling and alcohol.

The mayor’s focus has now shifted to soft drinks. He has actually come up with a proposal that if passed will cause the sale of large-sized high-calorie drinks to be prohibited in food joints and other social facilities.

Bloomberg’s proposal will cause libertarians and food lobby to brand him as “nanny-in-chef” .His proposal has received backing from health experts because they see it as the only remedy that can eliminate the problem of obesity that is being experienced by most residents of New York.

Once the proposal is accepted, it will be compulsory for all food joints that are monitored by the city authorities such as cafeterias, street carts, delis, cinemas and sports arenas to reduce the size of the cups that are used to hold fizzy drinks that are released from their dispensers. Under this proposal cups whose capacity is higher than 16 ounces of fluid will not be allowed. However, cups that can hold volumes slightly below half a litre will be accepted.

If this proposal is passed the current large and super sized containers that are used by most food outlets will be a thing of the past. Some of these containers can hold two litres of fizzy drinks. The new by laws will affect all drinks that contain calorie volumes above the mark of 25 per 8 fluid ounces. Some of these drinks include coke and Pepsi among many other fizzy brands in the market. Milk based drinks and diet colas will be exempted from this requirement.

It is highly anticipated that Bloomberg will present his proposal on June 12 to the city’s Board of Health for them to approve it. The members of this board are appointed by him and therefore there is no way they would reject his proposal. There will be three months period during which the public is expected to present its views regarding this issue.

The proposal will then be implemented in March next year.

All businesses are expected to have complied with these rules by November 2013.Failure to comply will call for a fine not less than $200. ”All of us are aware of the risks of obesity but I’m glad that New York is doing something about it” Bloomberg told the New York Post. Since the beginning of his tenure back in 2002, Bloomberg has remained committed towards improving the health standards in New York. He has actively participated in many awareness campaigns, many of which have been borrowed by other states in the US and other parts of the globe.

He is remembered for being part of the group that advocated for the prohibition of transfats in food back in December 2006, a move that was adopted by UK.This campaign influenced UK retailers to cut back on the amount of the said fats. In addition to that the calorie labelling initiative was also adopted by UK which saw it being adopted as a voluntary scheme in 2011.

The rising cases of obesity in New York have caught the mayor’s attention. Currently it is alleged that 40% of students in New York are either obese or overweight. The rate of obesity among Americans is expected to swell to 42% by 2030 if people don’t change their eating habits.

New York has actually banned fizzy drinks in its public schools. In addition to that an advertisement campaign has already been rolled out to sensitize the general public on the dangers associated with type 2 diabetes. The city had also come up with a proposal that would have seen poor families being barred from using food stamps to purchase fizzy drinks but the proposal was rejected by the federal government.

“Obesity crisis is crucial national matter that has been allowed to persist for a long time”, said David Katz, who is a health scientist at Yale and editor of the journal Child Obesity.

There are several disasters that have taken place and they are believed to be induced by obesity and they include the large number of children that are suffering from strokes and most of them are between the ages of 5 and 14.Sugary beverages have also been blamed for fueling the epidemic.

A report released by the mayor’s office points out that most popular food joints including MacDonald’s have extended the size of their cups by 457% since the year 1955 in a bid to lure more customers.

The health advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest, through its chair Mr Michael Jacobson, has supported the mayor’s initiative. In his statement he said “Time has proved that soft drinks are to blame for the increasing cases of obesity and as public officers we have come up with strict rules for the purpose of arresting the situation”.

New York residents had different opinions regarding the new rules. For instance Anna Pirgousis aged 23, who works as a diner manager in Manhattan recommended the 16 ounces per litre limit because she did not see any reason as to why people should drink more than that. On the contrary, Jerry Blair who is a student at Kingsborough Community College felt the new rules will be a waste of time because weight management is a personal decision.

Trouble is brewing for Bloomberg as industry players whose businesses will be affected by these rules are already ganging up against him. The New York City Beverage Association has termed the proposal by Bloomberg as “unhealthy obsession” and an “obstacle”.