The list of opponents to New York City's soon-to-be enacted restriction on super-sized sugary drinks is growing, as the New York State branch of the NAACP and the Hispanic Federation have announced their resistance to the new law.
The ban, which will take effect March 12, prohibits NYC restaurants and other businesses from selling sugary drinks in cups larger than 16 oz.
Critics appeared in a New York State Supreme Court hearing in Manhattan on Wednesday to voice their disapproval.
The NAACP and the Hispanic Federation, a network of 100 northeastern groups, were among them. They argued that the ban is racist, putting minority-owned delis and corner stores at a competitive disadvantage against chain grocers.
"This sweeping regulation will no doubt burden and disproportionally impact minority-owned businesses at a time when these businesses can least afford it," the NAACP and the Hispanic Federation claimed in jointly-filed court papers
The measure, which was approved last September, was Mayor Mike Bloomberg's initiative to combat the childhood obesity epidemic.
About 16 percent of the city's children are considered obese, with black and Hispanic children suffering from obesity at a higher rate than other race, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Referencing the obesity statistics in their argument, the city Health Department's chief lawyer, Thomas Merrill, claimed the city health board had the authority to enact the ban and that the provisions are reasonable and necessary.
"The reason for the rule is that there is an obesity epidemic (and) a product that contains empty calories and no nutritional value is being over-consumed," Merrill said, pointing to scientific evidence that he said demonstrated that sugary drinks play a large role in the surge of obesity in recent years.
Nationwide childhood obesity has tripled since 1980, according to the CDC. Approximately 12.5 million (17 percent) of children and adolescents between two and 19 years of age are now obese.
Obesity among adults is even more severe. Approximately 110 million (35.7 percent) American adults above the age of 20 are obese.
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