NYC Board of Health to vote today on Mayor Bloomberg's big soda ban

Under the NYC proposal, sugary drinks could not be served in containers larger than 16 ounces.
Under the NYC proposal, sugary drinks could not be served in containers larger than 16 ounces.
Under Mayor Bloomberg's proposal, sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces will not be sold at restaurants and other food establishments like movie theaters and sports venues.

(CBS News) New York City health officials are expected to decide today whether to enact Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal to place a 16-ounce cap on sugary drinks sold throughout the city's restaurants and other eateries.

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If approved, New York City residents and tourists will no longer be able to purchase fountain or bottled sugary drinks at restaurants, fast food chains, delis, movie theaters, sports venues and street carts beginning in March, 2013. That would eliminate popular 20-ounce bottles or 32-ounce fountain options from such establishments that fall under Board of Health's jurisdiction.

People would still be able to purchase two-liters and other large-sized drinks at grocery and convenience stores which are exempt from the ban. Those who buy drinks at locations where the ban is in place also have the option to purchase additional 16-ounce beverages.

The mayor's proposal has been met by both praise from health advocates and criticism from the beverage industry and those crying foul of a nanny state overstepping its bounds.

Last week, dieting heavyweightsWeight Watchers and Jenny Craig came out in support of the proposal.

''Today, we live in a world where despite our best intentions, it's oftentimes very difficult on your own to make the healthy choice,'' said David Burwick, president of Weight Watchers North America said at a press conference with the mayor last week. ''We all need to take more personal responsibility for our own weight and eating habits, but it helps to remember what a healthy portion size is in a world where super-size portions have become the norm.''

New Yorkers for Beverage Choices said in a statement last Tuesday that, "New Yorkers are smart enough to make their own decisions," adding that a ban won't address the complex causes of the obesity issue.

At a July hearing, advocates on both side of the issue engaged in a public debate on the merits of the ban. Health Experts argued soda in large amounts may be toxic to the body's metabolic system, and a 20-ounce sugary drink - the caloric equivalent of a McDonald's hamburger - would be easier to over-consume than food.

Joy Dubost, a nutritionist who works for the National Restaurant Association, said during that debate that the proposal wasn't backed up by scientific evidence and, "It's not reasonable to blame or cite one product."

Other critics questioned why sugary drinks were being targeted while some city schools don't even have physical education classes.

In New York City, more than half of adults are overweight or obese and nearly one in five kindergarten students are obese, according to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Besides eating more calories than you burn, inactivity, genetics and family history, environmental factors like advertising, access to walking areas or healthy foods are all potential causes of obesity.