Fizzy drinks ban left flat

AMERICAN life and beliefs have come under the spotlight thanks to a 16 fluid ounce (473ml) cup of fizzy drink.

A law in New York which would have banned the sale of sugary drinks including soda any larger than this size in food service establishments to help tackle chronic obesity in America was just 24 hours from becoming law.

But the anti-obesity bubble burst when Judge Milton Tingling blocked the ban saying it was “arbitrary and capricious”, Mayor Michael Bloomberg promising an immediate appeal because he said the judge was “totally in error”.

It will come as no surprise to you when I reveal that the American Beverage Association, which had been leading the fight against the ban, was pretty pleased by the reprieve.

It claimed the judge’s decision was a huge relief to thousands of businesses and New York residents, but the facts behind this proposed law make chilling reading and paint the ABA in a less than responsible light.

Bloomberg revealed that obesity is to blame for killing 1,825,000 Americans a year with a staggering 58 per cent of adults in New York obese or overweight.

The ban, which formed part of attempts to reduce obesity, had been approved by the City Board of Health to come into force today before Judge Tingling’s ruling prevented that.

Now the ABA is triumphantly claiming the proposed ban was “arbitrary and unpopular” although whether this stance is dictated by a desire to stand up for people’s rights or their corporate profits is open to debate.

What is interesting are some of the remarks made in response to the widespread coverage attracted by the court ruling.

Some say the whole point was to try and stop the larger quantities of fizzy drinks being offered for sale because they are often aggressively marketed to increase profits while others reply that all the ban would have seen was diners buying two smaller amounts to get the same quantity.

Still more say what is the point of trying to control the size of a fizzy drink when it goes with a burger and chips big enough to feed an entire family!

One of my favourites comments came from the UK where a man said he tried to buy a pint of strong cider in his local pub only to be told by the landlord that the brewery said he could only sell it in halves.

His reply to the landlord was: “Well, I’ll have two halves then!” and the landlord capitulated and gave him a pint! His argument is that the ban on pints was as stupid as the proposed American ban on large fizzy drinks.

Whether limiting the maximum size of fizzy drinks in New York would have helped reduce America’s obesity problem is one for the experts, but the UK is not exempt from the problem.

It has the worst record in Europe with nearly half all adults overweight with more than one in six men and more than one in five women obese.

One headline case saw authorities have to demolish part of her home to save a teenager who had suffered a seizure. She weighed an estimated 63 stone (400kg).

About one in 11 of all UK deaths is linked to carrying excess fat, so the next time you tuck into fast food with a fizzy drink the long term bill may not just be for cash.

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