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New York City big-soda ban struck down despite warnings: Sugar is addictive drug

New York City big-soda ban struck down: Mayor De Blasio 'extremely disappointed'
New York City big-soda ban struck down: Mayor De Blasio 'extremely disappointed'Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The New York State Court of Appeals has struck down the proposed ban on the sale of super-sized sugary sodas that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had championed last year.

In a blistering 20 opinion, Judge Eugene Pigott wrote that the city’s Board of Health had “exceeded the scope of its regulatory authority” in trying to enact the soda ban in the first place.

In a 4-2 decision, the appellate court said the NYC Board of Health does not have the power to enact laws concerning public-health issues.

Major Victory for Big Soda

The proposal had sought to ban the sale of super-sized sugary sodas in containers larger than 16 ounces by restaurants, movie theaters, street vendors and stadium concession stands.

Grocery and convenience stores (such as 7-Eleven, which sells the 32-oz. "Big Gulp" soda) were exempt, and the ban would not have applied to water, diet soda, coffee drinks, milk or milkshakes, fruit and vegetable juices or alcoholic beverages.

Interestingly, the current NYC Mayor, Bill de Blasio — a vocal critic of Bloomberg — supported the soda ban, and said he was "extremely disappointed" by the court's decision. De Blasio said he would explore other ways to curb the city's alarming obesity epidemic.

The ruling was a huge victory for the American Beverage Association, the trade group that represents soda manufacturers. Big Soda had fought tooth-and-nail to ensure New Yorkers would be able to guzzle as many over-sized sodas as they want.

'Sugar Is an Addictive Drug'

While former Mayor Bloomberg had been criticized for promoting a "nanny state," he repeatedly said his health-conscious measures were necessary because over 58% of Big Apple residents are overweight or obese, and diabetes is soaring. Curbing sugar intake was something Bloomberg wanted to do with his proposal.

Avoiding sugar is the one thing that will make the biggest difference in your health, said obesity Dr. Mark Hyman, author of The 10-Day Detox Diet.

"Sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine,” said Dr. Hyman. "Sugar is the new nicotine. Sugar is the new fat — except fat is not addictive in the way that sugar is. And worse, sugar actually causes diabetes and obesity.”

While Hyman's anti-sugar stance may seem extreme, he joins a growing list of medical experts who are convinced that sugar has no redeeming nutritional value and should be avoided as much as possible. Pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Robert Lustig said sugar is an addictive drug and a leading cause of early mortality.

"One-quarter of the world's diabetes is explained by sugar alone," said Dr. Lustig author of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar. "The food industry has contaminated the American food supply with added sugar to 'sell more product' and increase profits. Sugar in excess is a toxin, and the food industry has put us way over our limit."

Bloomberg Enacted Many Fitness-Minded Proposals During Tenure

During his three terms as mayor, Bloomberg rolled out several major fitness-minded initiatives, including banning smoking in New York City restaurants, parks and beaches; eliminating the use of artificial trans fats at NYC restaurants, and forcing fast-food joints to post calorie counts on their menus.

In July 2013, Bloomberg proposed legislation designed to make city buildings more staircase-friendly, in a bid to encourage New Yorkers to take the stairs rather than elevators. “Exercise is good for you,” he said.

Bloomberg, who at 72 still looks trim, fit and energetic, said he takes the stairs at his own Upper East Side townhouse every day.

"I have five floors in my house," said the self-made billionaire. "I just take the stairs. Stairs are much faster and more convenient."