Controversy fizzing over Bloomberg's soda ban
Large portions of sugary drinks lead to obesity, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says.
June 4th, 2012
01:36 PM ET

Controversy fizzing over Bloomberg's soda ban

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has created a soda controversy that may take more than a 44-ounce Big Gulp to quench.

Citing what he says is the contribution sugary beverages make to obesity in the U.S., Bloomberg proposed a ban the sale of any sugary beverage over 16 ounces in any of the city's restaurants, delis, movie theaters or even street carts.

“Obesity is a nationwide problem, and all over the United States, public health officials are wringing their hands saying, ‘Oh, this is terrible.’ New York City is not about wringing your hands; it’s about doing something. I think that’s what the public wants the mayor to do,” Bloomberg told The New York Times in making his proposal last week.

Soda has been a hot topic across the Web since.

Bloomberg has his supporters, including a former president.

"It's basically too much sugar going into the body. We can't process it all. So, if you get rid of these giant, full of sugar drinks and make people have smaller portions, it will help," former President Clinton told CNN's Piers Morgan.

"Good for Bloomberg," writes CNN contributor David Frum. "Obesity is America's most important public health problem, and the mayor has led the way against it. This latest idea may or may not yield results. But it is already raising awareness. Even if it fails to become law, it ought to prod the beverage industry into acting as more responsible corporate citizens."

But Coca-Cola is among the corporate citizens that don't quite see it the way Bloomberg's supporters do.

The company's vice president of science and regulatory affairs, Rhona Applebaum, says the government should help get kids more active before it tries to cut their soda quaffing.

If we're going to hold the sodas, we should hold the fries, writes Mark A. Pereira, an associate professor in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health at the University of Minnesota.

"What's the rationale behind targeting a single dietary factor in the sea of unhealthy foods and drinks that barrage us every day?" Pereira asks on CNN.com.

Celebrities are taking sides, too.

Alec Baldwin writes in the Huffington Post that he supports the mayor, likening America's addiction to sweets to an addiction to drugs.

"Many of those who cry loudest about measures like the one Bloomberg has proposed are probably sick, too: hooked on high fat, high sodium and high sugar diets who don't want their 'drug' taken away," Baldwin writes.

Put "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart among those opposed to the mayor.

Sucking down a large, movie theater-sized soda on his show, Stewart sarcastically said he loves Bloomberg's plan.

"It combines the draconian overreach people love with the probable lack of results they expect," Stewart said.

Bloomberg, Stewart said, had put him in the uncomfortable position of having to agree with conservative commentators like Tucker Carlson.

Market experts say Bloomberg's plan could backfire, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

“Whenever people feel like they’re being restricted they begin to resist. And that creates a real headwind for a policy like this,” David Just, a professor and food marketing specialist at Cornell University told the Times.

“I’ll show them; I’ll drink three sodas” may be their reaction, Just told the Times.

Julie Gunlock, director of Women for Food Freedom and senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum, sees merit in that argument.

"New Yorkers are known for their independence and their brash resistance to such heavyhanded efforts," Gunlock writes in the New York Daily News.

Just outside the city, Paul Mulshine, writing in The Star-Ledger of Newark, New Jersey, says a ban isn't the answer, but a tax is.

"You can’t outsmart the market. If you want less of something, whether it’s soda or gasoline, tax it. If you want more of something, cut the tax on it," Mulshine writes.

Of course, he says, ban or tax, it really makes no difference to him.

"I drink beer. And that’s already taxed," Mulshine writes. "Good thing, too, or Mayor Mike might put a limit on mug sizes."

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Filed under: Food • Health • New York • Nutrition • Politics
soundoff (664 Responses)
  1. deven politicer watcher FOR THE TRUTH

    I think it's a good idea because america is one of the fattest countrys in the world and we need to do something about that or are next generation will get affected because of us.So i agree with this new ban of sugar drinks over 16 sugar ouches good job new your mayor.
    GOD BLESS THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!

    June 4, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bob

    Simple fact is Diet soda makes you fatter than soda with sugar. There are studies to prove it. And Corn syrup is the worse thing you can drink! Show me a fat person who drinks a drink with sugar or a skinny person who drinks a diet soda! The toxin in GMO corn makes insects stomachs blow up and then you put that corn syrup into soda and peoples stomach's blow up?? Why can't you figure that one out?

    June 4, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • basketcase

      Wow, you are clueless. Insect's stomachs rupture (as in literally ruptures the wall of the gut) because there is an insecticide in the GMO corn (the foreign gene that makes it a GMO). That isn't at all related to people getting fat because they consume too much.

      June 4, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bamm Bamm Hussein Dah Sheiky

    Things must be better then the media reports if this is the only thing wrong with New York or any other major city for that matter. They must have no unemployment, no crime, and no need to tax anyone casue they have no other issues to deal with! I used to like Bloomberg but he's proven himself to be a jerk. Dont sell someone a big drink cause thats the ONLY thing wrong. Our country is going down the tubes fast with crap like this! Shame on Bloomberg.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bob

    Isn't this Mayor overweight!!!

    Will this make it through the courts???

    June 4, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jduff222

    Here here. I rarely can eat a whole meal at a restaurant but i have to order a big plate of food. I order the small drnks at fast food restaurants and wish they had smaller cheaper sizes. Cut the portions and the prices then maybe fatties will be inclined to eat and drink less.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kateeh90

      Be careful jduff222, not all fatties drink soda and consume huge portion sizes. There are a lot of other reasons for excess weight.

      June 4, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • honest john

      ok sure, about 3% of them have a true genetic disorder, but the other 97% are there because they like their Big Mac and hate to walk more then 3 steps.

      June 4, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • niddyb

      You are correct. Not all fatties drink soda and consume huge portion sizes. Only the large majority. Some fatties eat small portions of junk food and soda consistently throughout the day, without exercise, to become fat. Only a statistically insignificant portion of the population is fat due to reasons beyond their control (medical problems not including lack of will power / exercise).

      June 5, 2012 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
    • PaulC

      True, but sugary sodas and large portions of the wrong types of food are TWO significant reasons for obesity.

      June 5, 2012 at 7:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Joel

      so. . . you get off on a diabolical impulsion to control the lives of "fatties".

      June 5, 2012 at 3:41 am | Report abuse |
    • DAVID

      who cares what you do? Good for you dbag. Come call me a fattie to my face?

      June 5, 2012 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      You're exactly right – the food industry took cues from the tobacco industries get us hooked and get us hooked early. who needs a 1500 cal dinner portion it's crazy. Some of the most satisfying meals have been small portioned meals with a variety of flavors – look at French and Mediterranean cuisine's...(but this is 'Merica!) ridiculous...

      June 5, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
    • TAK

      True. The drink cups that are being called Small or Medium nowadays were the Large when I was a kid. But still, to have government dictate drink size? That just doesn't sit well with me.

      June 5, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  6. Super Size

    What next limiting cigarettes to to cigs a day? I mean limit the time it takes to get off heroin? Next they will tell the mexicans that their cocaine is too strong. People abuse , they get fat, they lose , they get fat... and milk and cookies is a killer plus smoothies and shakes.... Only thing i can think of is shut down all the restaurents in Ny they are the real killlers and of course whats gonna happen to free refills???

    June 4, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Joel

    People who don't like this government intervention will surely be happy when government intervenes in the form of Medicaid when these soda drinkers get fat, get diabetes, and can't pay for their treatments or surgeries as the result of their disease. Look for circulation problems, heart attacks, strokes, and amputations as a result of diabetes-related obesity. I fully support Mr. Bloomberg. Many Americans have no self control.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. GreatViewFromHere

    I don't think a ban is appropriate. Sugary products should be taxed to offset medical expenses associated with obesity. My impression is that prohibition of substances is an ineffective method of control. Plenty of examples to support this (i.e. alcohol and marijuana).

    June 4, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Garry

    Americans are addicted to unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles. These result in skyrocketing health and disability costsl Sugar, fat and salt laden fast food, snacks and processed foods have led to high rates of obesity and severe and preventable but health problems. How long can we keep this up? So, if Mayor Bloomberg's solution is unacceptable, what is YOUR solution? The problem won't magically go away.

    June 4, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Quit The Hate

      It isn't your business to decide what I do, where I go, what I believe OR what I eat or drink. You have control over one person in this world and its yourself. You can't control other people and what they decide to do even if you know they are harming themselves. If you don't like soda, don't drink it but you don't have the right to tell others what they can and can't do.

      June 4, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. MikeNBuffalo

    Is this mayor Bloomberg or Mayor Adam West? Seems more like an Idea Mayor West would come up with....Next we should make a statue of the Kellogg's smacks frog!

    June 4, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JoJo

    Don't say it's out of your control. You have every option to stop halfway through and throw it out. I don't like waste either, but what is the point of drinking it all if it makes you unhappy to do so? Don't be under this "I'm a victim!" illusion. You absolutely have control to not drink 22 oz, and if you do it anyway, then you need to address that personally with a therapist instead of letting it hold you hostage.

    June 4, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roscoe Chait

      Consuming sugar has become an addiction. How do you stop?

      June 5, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  12. Allan

    Weed, yes. Sweets, no. New York has entered the twilight zone.

    June 4, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Scottish Mama

    Goverment needs to stay out of the business, of getting into our business.

    June 4, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Puglover

    If this guy runs for president in 2012, as many think he will, we just got a preview of what life would be like under a Bloomberg. Sodas are just the beginning for those like Bloomberg that believe they need to limit our decisions on what we put into our bodies. It reminds me of George Orwell's 1984 book.

    June 4, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. GD

    I do not normally comment on issues but this one upset me. This is not like Alcohol or Tobacco that affects the safety of others. Regulation of soda is ridiculous. We need to wake up and take our country back. This is just another example of the government inserting itself where it does not belong.

    June 4, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
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