When New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed to ban the sale of sugary drinks in excess of 16-ounces in May, 2012, it raised more than a few eyebrows.
Although the ban isn’t to take place until March 2013 and affects only restaurants, movie theaters, sporting arenas and street carts, critics claim the move limits their freedom of choice.
Bloomberg, who banned sugary drinks in schools in 2003, scoffs at the notion that the ban is limiting individual freedom.
The move, he said, is to help curb obesity and chronic illness in America’s largest city. By limiting portion size, the city hopes consumers will pick healthier choices.
But not everyone is sweet on that idea. On July 9, 2012, about 50 anti-ban protestors chanted, “Drink free or die” in the City Hall Park as part of the Million Big Gulp March.
Protest organizer, NYC Liberty HQ spokesman Zach Huff said the march is “about more than just the size of drinks.”
”It’s is our long-overdue response to a governing ideology that thinks it can tell us what fat we can cook with, how much popcorn we can buy, whether we can use table salt or even how much water we can bathe with and use in each flush,” he said in a statement.
“It’s astonishing to see a pro-choice mayor be so anti-choice when it comes to trivial personal decisions.”
But when it comes to sugary drinks, it’s not just the Big Apple who’s soured on them. From Boston to California, hospitals, public health departments and city governments are saying no.
Some are proposing taxing sugary drinks while others are instituting bans similar to New York City's.
Ban proponents say sugar-sweetened beverages contribute to an increase in caloric intake without providing any nutrients. As America’s collective waistline gets larger, so does the incidence of chronic illnesses like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Research shows Americans consume 200 to 300 more calories a day now than they did 30 years ago, largely due to sugary drinks that contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).