Mayor’s proposed soda ban hits a sour note in Southwest Brooklyn

June 14, 2012 Denise Romano
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Mayor Michael Bloomberg had New Yorkers chewing the fat once again when, on May 31, he announced plans to ban the sale of sugary drinks that are more than 16 ounces in size in such locations as restaurants, movie theaters and stadiums.

Bloomberg said that sugary drinks are a main cause of the country’s growing obesity epidemic and limiting the size of the beverages sold at locations across the city will help keep the problem at bay.

“Limiting the size of sugary drinks to no more than 16 ounces at food service establishments will help us confront the obesity and diabetes epidemics, which now affect millions of New Yorkers,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “This intervention will begin to curb the thousands of empty and unnecessary calories New Yorkers consume from sugary drinks every year, and educate people about the health risks they pose.”

Doctors, health advocates and business owners across the country are weighing in on the ban. Elected officials such as former Mayor Ed Koch, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Assemblymember Felix Ortiz support the ban, but many of those in southwest Brooklyn beg to differ.

Xaverian students Eddie Wilkinson and Anthony Verdoliva both said that the ban was ridiculous.

“If it’s going to happen, I would just buy two smaller sodas,” Verdoliva said. “It should be about what you want.”

Shayanne Wright said banning soda is not the solution to the obesity problem. “Just because people’s kids are fat, why take it out on everyone else?” she said, while enjoying her large soda at McDonald’s. “You have to blame the parents; you can’t blame all of New York City. Maybe they should come up with an exercise program in schools instead. If you ban soda, maybe you should ban bad foods, too.”

Local politicians also sounded off against Bloomberg.

Councilmember Vincent Gentile said the mayor was contradicting himself with the ban, since he announced that Snapple would be the official drink of the city in 2003, giving the beverage giant the rights to put its iced teas and fruit drinks – many containing sugar — in vending machines in schools citywide. “It’s absolutely ridiculous,” Gentile said.

Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis said she is opposed to the mayor’s “ridiculous” proposal. “It’s over-reaching to tell citizens what they can and cannot consume. Trying to ration soda is not the role of government,” she told this paper. “Just because you can’t buy a 40-ounce soda doesn’t mean you can’t buy two 20-ounce sodas. We live in a democracy and a free nation. People have to be able to make their own decisions.”

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz said that he appreciates the mayor’s efforts, but thinks that education is a better route instead of government restrictions. “Where the government can really play a role is in ensuring that every middle school and high school requires exercise during the day, teaching our children the importance of eating healthy and perhaps placing physical trainers or exercise clinics in the neighborhoods that are struggling with obesity the most,” he told this paper.

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