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Bloomberg: Weight Watchers, Other Groups Support Big Drink Ban

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announces Weight Watchers and other weight loss organizations support city’s anti-obesity proposal on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012.(Photo Credit: Spencer T Tucker/Flickr)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announces Weight Watchers and other weight loss organizations support city’s anti-obesity proposal on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012.(Photo Credit: Spencer T Tucker/Flickr)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Weight Watchers and other weight loss groups support his idea to ban super-sized sugary drinks in New York City.

Bloomberg made the announcement along with Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda Gibbs, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley and Weight Watchers President Dave Burwick on Tuesday.

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The proposal would put a 16-ounce limit on sugary drinks sold at city restaurants, movie theaters, sports venues and street carts and apply to both bottled and fountain drinks.

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It would not include grocery or convenience stores that don’t serve prepared food and would not apply to diet soda, other calorie-free drinks or anything that has at least 50 percent milk or milk substitute.

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Bloomberg said the proposed ban is a way to fight obesity in New York City.

“It’s time to face the facts: obesity is one of America’s most deadly problems and sugary beverages are a leading cause of it. As the size of sugary drinks has grown, so have our waistlines – and so have diabetes and heart disease,” Bloomberg said Tuesday. “Our proposal for reasonable portion sizes won’t prevent anyone from buying or drinking as much soda as they want, but it will help people keep from inadvertently taking in junk calories simply because the small drink they ordered was actually very large.”

Burwick said there has been “a lot of discussion about obesity, but little action,” which is why he said Weight Watchers supports the proposed ban.

“Today, we live in a world where despite our best intentions, it’s oftentimes very difficult on your own to make the healthy choice,” said Burwick. “We all need to take more personal responsibility for our own weight and eating habits, but it helps to remember what a healthy portion size is in a world where super-size portions have become the norm.”

Other weight loss groups, including Jenny Craig, The South Beach Diet, The Best Life and Picture Perfect Weight Loss also showed their support for the mayor’s plan.

But opponents say the city is overstepping its bounds and infringing on personal freedom.

“These diet companies often emphasize choice and options in their own plans, allowing their customers a wide variety of food and drink and we want the same exact thing,” said New Yorkers for Beverage Choices spokesman Eliot Hoff. “Restrictions and bans will do nothing to address the very complex issue of obesity and New Yorkers are smart enough to make their own decisions about what they eat and drink.”

A series of public hearings have been held about the proposal, where business owners, health care workers, lawmakers and members of the general public have argued both for and against the ban.

The New York City Board of Health votes on the proposal Sept. 13. If it passes, the rules will go into effect by next March.

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