Just one day before the ban on the sale of super-sized sodas goes into effect in New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg suggested the legislation be adopted nationwide, or even globally, as part of an initiative to stem the obesity epidemic.
"I think everybody across this country should do it," Bloomberg told reporters at a press conference in Manhattan March 11. "In fact, obesity is a problem around the world. There are places that have starvation and very high diabetes rates."
The law, which was approved in September 2012, will ban the sale of sugary sodas and other sweetened drinks 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) are exempt, and the ban does not apply to water, diet soda, coffee drinks, milk or milkshakes, fruit and vegetable juices or alcoholic beverages.
While Bloomberg has been slammed as fascist for proposing the legislation (which many call an infringement on personal freedom), he says something had to be done to address the alarming epidemic of obesity sweeping NYC and the U.S.
"I think you’re not gonna see a lot of push-back here at all," he says. "And I do think that if this works, it’s a good starting point.
“Obesity is one of America’s most deadly problems, and sugary beverages are a leading cause. As the size of sugary drinks has grown, so have our waistlines – and so have diabetes and heart disease."
The NYC mayor noted that obesity remains a major crisis in lower-income neighborhoods. "If you look at where obesity is in the country, it tends to be in people at the lower end of the economic ladder, who don’t have the ability to take care of themselves as well," he said.
"And if anybody will get helped 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."
This isn't the first time Bloomberg has enacted health-conscious legislation. During the past few years, the self-made billionaire has banned smoking in New York City restaurants, parks and beaches; eliminated the use artery-clogging artificial trans fats at NYC restaurants, and forced fast-food joints to post calorie counts on their menus.