Large-Soda Ban Blocked, Concerning Some Nutritionists

LiveScience.com

New Yorkers who enjoy super-sized sodas can keep drinking them, for now.

Today (March 11), a state judgeinvalidated New York City's large-soda ban, which was set to take effect tomorrow. Judge Milton Tingling, of the New York Supreme Court, called the measure "arbitrary and capricious," according to The New York Times.

The measure would have prevented the sale of sodas and other sweetened beverages larger than 16 ounces. Mayor Michael Bloomberg saw the measure as an opportunity to make the city healthier, citing sugary drinks and large portion sizes as culprits in the obesity epidemic.

However, critics pointed out that some large drinks, such as those containing more than 50 percent milk, were not prohibited. What's more, the rules did not apply to all establishments; convenience stores such as 7-Eleven, home of the Big Gulp, were exempt.

"The loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the stated purpose of the rule," Tingling said, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Bloomberg administration said it plans to appeal the sugary drinks decision as soon as possible. "We believe that ultimately, the courts will find it consistent with the law," Bloomberg said in a press conference today. "Being the first to do something is never easy," Bloomberg said, referring to the fact that the city's ban on large sugary drinks is the first of its kind in the nation.

Marion Nestle, a professor in the department of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, called the decision disappointing. "I hope the city tries again," Nestle told MyHealthNewsDaily. In a New York Daily News editorial yesterday, Nestle called the concept of a large-soda ban a "terrific idea," but said more should be done to close the loopholes.

"Most people eat whatever size is in front of them, the 'default' in public health-speak, and are content with that amount. So a reasonable goal of public health intervention is to change the default drink to a smaller size," Nestle wrote.

Others argued that the ban in its current form might actually increase calorie consumption. The ruling would prohibit coffees over 16 ounces if they had more than a certain amount of sugar added (about two packets), leading some vendors to announce that they would make customers add their own sugar to large coffees. This change might prompt some coffee lovers to opt for coffees containing milk, such as lattes, which have more calories than plain coffee, said David R. Just, co-director of the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs.

"The policy is so convoluted, it is unclear if it [would] actually encourage an increase in calorie consumption," Just said in a statement.

A study published last summer suggested that the ban could lower calorie consumption, but only if at least 40 percent of people made changes in their habits (switching from a larger size to a 16-ounce size.)

Pass it on: New York City's large soda ban has been blocked.

Follow Rachael Rettner @RachaelRettner. Follow us @MyHealth_MHNDFacebook or Google+.

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