New York became the first city in the US to ban the sale of large sodas and sugary beverages in restaurants, a move that Mayor Michael Bloomberg said will help combat the "obesity epidemic" that kills 6000 New Yorkers every year and is destroying the health of Americans.
The New York City Board of Health voted 8-0 yesterday in favour of limiting the size of sugary beverages sold in restaurants, mobile food carts, delis and at movie theatres, stadiums and arenas. There was one abstention.
The new regulation will go into effect next March, giving establishments six months to comply with new rules that sugary beverages with more than 25 calories per eight ounces can only be sold in portions of 16 ounces or less.
"This is the biggest step a city has taken to curb obesity," Bloomberg said.
"The Board of Health's passing this proposal means that New Yorkers will soon consume fewer junk calories and eventually begin turning the tide of the obesity epidemic that is destroying the health of far too many of our citizens," he said.
Beverages that are less than 25 calories per 8 ounces, more than 50 per cent milk or 100 per cent fruit or vegetable juice will not be impacted by the new regulations.
The regulation will be enforced through the city's regular restaurant inspection process.
Food service establishments would have six months time to adjust menu boards, cup and container sizes and make other necessary changes in order to be in compliance with the regulation.
Barclays Center, the new arena scheduled to open next week for the basketball team Brooklyn Nets, will voluntarily adopt the new regulations on the sale of sugary beverages, becoming the first major venue in the city to stop selling large sodas.
Bloomberg said that New York city pushed the issue of obesity and the impact of sugary beverages onto the national stage simply by proposing limits on sugary drinks.
Obesity kills nearly 6,000 New Yorkers annually and one in eight adult New Yorkers now has diabetes.
The obesity epidemic strikes hardest in communities already suffering from health and economic disparities, particularly black, Latino and low-income neighbourhoods with black New Yorkers almost three times more likely, and Hispanics twice as likely, as whites to die from diabetes.
The Bloomberg administration had first proposed a ban on large drinks in May to combat the growing obesity epidemic.
Health experts from across the country have noted that sugary drink consumption is a key driver of the obesity epidemic as sugary drinks are high in calories, served in large sizes, and deliver no nutritional value, Bloomberg's office said.