On Thursday, May 30, 2012, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the city has proposed a ban on the selling of sodas and other sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces in restaurants, movies theaters, and food stands. The proposed controversial ban is the Mayor’s attempt to curve the obesity “epidemic” in New York City.
The ban has formed several camps and has split many New Yorkers. One such split is between the restaurant & beverage industries and health department. The controversy is not about whether government should tackle the obesity epidemic, but the means in which city officials are going about it. If the problem at hand is obesity, does the ban tackle the issue or is it another way in which government regulates individual eating habits?
Joy Dubost, a nutritionist at the National Restaurant Association, said “the proposal wasn’t backed up by scientific evidence. It’s not reasonable to blame or cite one product,” she continues to say that the proposal “produces a false sense of accomplishment in the fight against obesity.”
Mayor Bloomberg said that the ban on trans-fat, which was regulated six years ago, has produced evidence that it has reduced the amount fat of New Yorkers intake, which will potentially save lives. Recent studies show that there are approximately 5,800 deaths due to obesity in New York every year. His goal is to reduce the number of these deaths.
The ban has also split the Hispanic community. According to a Quinnipiac University poll, Hispanics disapproved of the way Mayor Michael Bloomberg is handling public health issues in New York City by 51%, while approval is at 42. On the other hand, 52%support the mayor soda ban, while 44% of New York Hispanics oppose the ban. When asked “do you think a ban on large sizes of sugary drinks would be effective in reducing New York City’s obesity rate?” 53% of Hispanics said “no,” while only 41% agreed.
In all, the ban has many New Yorkers and others split over whether government should get involved in people’s eating habits, or should individuals take personal responsibility for their actions.