“This new data is the latest evidence that sugary drinks are helping to drive the obesity epidemic, which falls hardest on low-income communities,” Bloomberg said. “Obesity is killing more than 5,000 New Yorkers each year and demands bold steps to fight this crisis. This week, New York City will do precisely that.”
The new data showed that 50 percent of residents in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights drink at least one sugary beverage each day. In those neighborhoods, about a third of the residents are obese.
Compared with the Upper West Side, for example, just 14 percent said they have a sugary drink daily and the obesity rate stands at 12 percent.
“It is poor people who really get hurt,” Bloomberg told reporters Monday. “If anybody will get help by this, it’s them because they’ve got to focus on working harder and moving themselves up the ladder and being overweight doesn’t help you do that.”
“You see these pictures of the old robber barons with their big stomachs, that was a sign of success. Today, those people are doing Pilates and running in marathons and triathlons,” he added.
The data was taken from the Community Health Survey, an annual telephone survey of approximately 9,000 adults, ages 18 years or older.
REGULATION WAS ‘TRIAL BALLOON’
Critics have said the ban is an unfair burden on small businesses. A customer who can’t get a large soda at a local restaurant could still buy a 32-ounce Big Gulp at a 7-Eleven since many convenience stores and supermarkets are excluded from the new regulations.
Critics have also said a ban wouldn’t make a meaningful difference in the fight against obesity.
“Bloomberg’s big idea is nothing more than a meaningless trial balloon to see if he can establish a precedent and then find a bigger target such as the sizes of pizza. Residents of the Big Apple should really be asking their mayor what’s next in his seemingly endless crusade against any food or drink with calories,” Center for Consumer Freedom senior research analyst J. Justin Wilson said in a statement. “Personal irresponsibility is what got New Yorkers to put on a few extra pounds. And it’s going to take personal responsibility, not a government takeover of our diet, to shed that weight.”
Speaking Sunday on CBS News’ “Face The Nation,” Bloomberg said all the city was doing was “reminding you that it’s not in your interest to have too many empty calories.”
“If you want to have 32 ounces, just buy two 16-ounce cups,” he said. “But it’s totally your choice. We’re not banning anything. It’s called portion control.”
New Yorkers are divided on the issue. A Quinnipiac University poll released last week found 51 percent opposed it, while 46 percent approved.
“It’s ridiculous,” said Merquita Ward. “I’m a grown woman. I should be able to drink what I want.”
“Nobody needs a drink big enough to take a small bath in,” said Mark Asch. “We’re all paying the price for people who drink too much sugar.”
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