According to today's EDGE article Sugary Drinks in NYC? Size Isn’t Everything by Jennifer Peltz & Candice Choi, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed ban on the sale of sugary drinks over 16 oz is an effort to “staunch an obesity rate that has risen from 18 to 24 percent in a decade among adult New Yorkers. Health officials say sugar-filled drinks bear much of the blame because they carry hundreds of calories . . . without making people feel full.” Michael Cardozo, NYC’s corporation counsel, added, “the growing obesity epidemic takes the lives of more than 5,000 New Yorkers every year.”
In last Wednesday's edition of the Daily Freeman, two headlines stood out: ‘Judge throws out NYC’s ban on large sugary drinks’ was followed by ‘Water tops soda in popularity’. The former described why State Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling ruled against the ban when he said that “the 16-ounce limit on sodas and other sweet drinks is too arbitrary.”
The latter said that “Americans now drink an average of 44 gallons of soda a year” (down from 54 gallons in 1998) and an “average 58 gallons of water a year” (up from 42 gallons in the same time period) with more than one third of that bottled water. The article cited the links between obesity and soda consumption as the primary reason for the switch, but did not explain why bottled water consumption doubled in that time.
Then, on WAMC Alan Chartock said that as some NYC eateries suggested buying bottled water instead of drinking free tap water, entrepreneurs “were bottling NYC tap water to sell all over the country.” The irony being that NYC tap water* regularly wins municipal water taste competitions.
Even as colleges limit or ban outright the sale of bottled water on campus, and environmentalists decry the costs associated with recycling and reusing the plastic bottles water is sold in, the health benefits of increased water consumption over soda cannot be ignored.
While NYC’s ban on sugary drinks awaits an appeal, New York’s bars and restaurants are scrambling to find out which of their beverages may have to be ‘down-sized’ and which do not. For example, the above Daily freeman article said that Starbucks isn’t changing anything, but Dunkin Donuts says customers can add to their coffee “all the sugar or sweet flavoring they want. But the chain will no longer do it for them, for fear of running over the limit of roughly three calories per ounce.“ Suddenly, we’re not just talking about soda, but all ‘super-sized’ sweet drinks.
Whatever the liquid in your cup, if the new law goes into effect it would bring changes, some possibly healthy, but it could be expensive and/or costly to implement.
*To read about the origins of NYC's tap water, read Water For New York City