Mayor Bloomberg’s ‘Big Gulp Ban’ and the Health of New York City

03 Jun, 2012

by Tom Laskaway, via

Big GulpIf the food police has a chief, it may very well be New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. His battles with the food industry are quickly becoming the stuff of legend. And his latest gambit is his boldest yet: Bloomberg just announced a plan to ban the sale of any sweetened beverage over 16 ounces at all restaurants, delis, and sports arenas in New York City.

And just so the soda industry doesn’t feel singled out, this ban would apply to sports drinks and sweetened iced tea, along with pretty much anything with added sugars—although the Starbucks Frappucino likely makes it through on a technicality; dairy products like it (as well as fruit juice, “diet” drinks and booze) are exempted.

This latest move comes on the heels of the city’s successful (and much copied) transfat ban as well as its public media campaign against soda  called “Don’t Drink Yourself Fat”—not to mention its proposal to limit salt in processed food. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control confirmed recently that these and many other efforts may be starting to pay off for the Big Apple. The obesity rate in NYC among kids dropped five percent over the last five years.

So why enact an outright ban on large drinks when there’s evidence [PDF] that a penny-per-ounce soda tax would have cut consumption while generating needed revenue for the public coffers? Do you really have to ask?

The short answer is because it would be impossible to get one passed—thanks in large part to the efforts of the deep-pocketed members of the American Beverage Association (ABA). PepsiCo was willing to spend $40 million in a single year to help kill a federal soda tax while the ABA itself buried a proposed Philadelphia soda tax through a $10 million donation to a local hospital’s anti-obesity efforts. And now comes word of Pepsi’s plan to co-opt the youth of the world by hosting “live-streamed concerts” on Twitter. Wait. Concerts? On Twitter? Just win, baby.

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  • marystod

    This is a highly controversial and uninformed decision on the part of a Mayor who is obviously out of touch with both sides of the regular v diet soda issue. Exempting Aspartame & Neotame sweetened drinks is not an intelligent move, based on our contiguous 27 year study of the issue.

    Aspartame has been shown, in peer-reviewed Medical Journal studies, to cause weight gain and at least seven types of deadly cancers: Brain; Pancreas; Uterine: Breast; Leukemia; Lymphoma – along with Seizures and Parkinson-like Tremors, to name a few. Including at least 5 deaths on record with FDA.

    The scientific evidence has grown greater each year, since Aspartame’s approval in 1981. Two and a half decades ago, Senate Hearings were conducted, many law suits have been settled out of Court (for undisclosed $$$$ amounts) and thousands of consumer adverse reaction reports are now on file with FDA and our Dallas/Washington based Aspartame Consumer Safety Network.
    Years from now, we will look back on our use of Aspartame artificial sweeteners the way we see, in hindsight, the folly of ever thinking cigarettes were safe. Until then, we need to familiarize ourselves with both sides of the sweetener issue, while at the same time realizing that billions of dollars are at stake. The Sugar Lobby is fragmented and pales in comparison with the gigantic Artificial Sweetener Lobby, which includes giant corporations like Monsanto.
    Refined sugars are a ‘Quality of Life’ issue (much as white flour, white rice, etc.) Pharmaceutical-type sugars like Aspartame and Neotame are Quantity of Life issues, meaning they are capable of causing death.
    Respectfully,Mary Nash Stoddard/author Deadly Deception Story of Aspartame (Odenwald ’98)Founder Aspartame Consumer Safety Network and Pilot Hotline (since 1987)