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First Soda, Now Milk: NYC Wants To Extend Ban to Popcorn, Milk Drinks

Wednesday, 13 Jun 2012 11:35 AM

By Andra Varin

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First it was large, sugary soft drinks. Now, the New York City diet police want to take away moviegoers’ jumbo tubs of popcorn as well.

The city’s Board of Health plans to hold a public hearing on July 24 on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to ban sales of 16-ounce soft drinks in restaurants, movie theaters, and sports arenas. Bloomberg says getting rid of the supersized, high-calorie beverages will help stem the obesity epidemic.

At a meeting Tuesday night, Board of Health members — who are all appointed by the mayor — expressed support for Bloomberg’s plan, and suggested broadening it to include other fattening snacks.

One member, Dr. Bruce Vladeck, said it would be a good idea to limit the sizes of buttery popcorn sold in movie theaters.

“Popcorn isn’t a whole lot better from the nutritional point of view than soda is, and may have even more calories,” Vladeck said.

Milk-based drinks are also coming under scrutiny.

“There are certainly milkshakes and milk-coffee beverages that have monstrous amounts of calories,” said board member Dr. Joel Forman. “I’m not so sure what the rationale is not to include those.”

Editor's Note: What Sugar Does to Your Body: New Video Shows Damage.

Assistant Health Commissioner Susan Kansagra praised the proposal to limit soft drinks sizes. She said the obesity leads to 5,800 deaths a year in the city and costs taxpayers $4 billion a year.

The New York City Restaurant Association has vowed to take legal action if the proposal is passed. The beverage industry has complained that it is being unfairly singled out.

Health board member Dr. Sixto Caro said the proposal restrictions could have a negative economic effect on small businesses and also hurt low-income New Yorkers.

“We are targeting the low-income small business rather than the big company,” Caro told the New York Daily News.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found that New York City voters oppose the soda size limits, 51 percent to 46 percent.

The Board of Health plans to vote on the proposed ban sometime in September.  If it is approved, it would go into effect in September 2013.

In 2006, New York became the first major U.S. city to ban cooking with trans-fats. Now, several cities have adopted similar bans.

Since 2008, New York also has required chain restaurants to post calorie counts with their menu items.

And late last year, San Francisco banned fast-food restaurants from including free toys with McDonald’s Happy Meals and children’s meals. Proponents said the trinkets lured children into nagging their parents to let them eat food with lower-nutritional value.

Editor's Note: What Sugar Does to Your Body: New Video Shows Damage.

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