Mayor Bloomberg’s controversial plan to ban sugary drinks is moving ahead. Yesterday, the NYC the Board of Health voted unanimously to publish the mayor’s proposal to ban the sales of large cups of sugary drinks for public review and hold a public hearing on Tuesday, July 24. A final vote is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 13.

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“The Mayor’s action continues New York City’s record in leading the nation in innovative strategies to protect the health of its residents,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer of the ban.

The Mayor’s recommended plan would apply to soda, sports drinks or sweetened coffee and teas in cups that hold more than 16 fluid ounces and would apply to beverages at restaurants, food carts, delis and concessions at movie theaters, stadiums and arenas. The ban is consistent with the Department of Health’s recent “Pouring on The Pounds” campaign to raise awareness about the health risks associated with consuming too much sugar from sweetened drinks. Critics and advocates have been weighing in heavily on the proposal and the Health Department has been collecting endorsements and posting them online.

“You don’t need added sugars in your diet at all, but there is a recommended maximum intake,” according to the website of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “A typical adult diet (2,000 calories per day) should include no more than 130 calories from added sugar. One 20-ounce soda has nearly twice that many calories.”

Nancy Romer, General Coordinator of the Brooklyn Food Coalition said she supports the proposal to help educate New Yorkers and raise consciousness about what they put in their mouths.

“Right now we are in the middle of an obesity epidemic such that over 40 percent of NYC children and 50 percent of NYC adults are overweight or obese,” Romer said. “This makes them likely candidates for all sorts of diet-related diseases: type II diabetes, heart disease, hyper-tension and joint diseases.”

Dr. Walter Willett, Chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health was pivotal in helping to ban transfats in NYC just a few years back.

“New York City’s plan to limit the serving size of soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages sold in restaurants is well-justified by solid evidence,” Willett said. “High intakes of these beverages increase the risks of obesity and diabetes and are clearly unsafe for anyone. Of course, this alone won’t halt the epidemics of these diseases sweeping our country, but it is valuable and creative step in the right direction that deserves the support of everyone who cares about the wellbeing of our children and all Americans.”

The American Beverage Association posted a defense of sweetened drinks on its blog.

“It seems these days that soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages are constantly being scapegoated as the cause of obesity,” the blog read. “Don’t get us wrong – calories from all foods and beverages can contribute to obesity if those calories aren’t being balanced out with physical activity. But there’s nothing unique about beverage calories when it comes to obesity or any other health condition. Sadly, however, the days of simply enjoying a refreshing beverage are under assault.”

Images © The Coca-Cola Company, Office of the Mayor and The Center for Disease Control and Prevention