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Bloomberg's war on sugar

Olufemi J. Watson Special to the AmNews | 4/16/2013, 4:50 p.m.

Once again, our billionaire mayor has decided he knows what is best for the "little people."

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently proposed a ban on oversized sodas and other sugary drinks, which would eliminate the public's ability to buy soda and other sugary drinks over 16 ounces at restaurants, street vendor carts and concession stands at movie theaters and sports arenas.

The logic behind the ban is that the majority of adults in New York City are overweight or obese, while 40 percent of students in kindergarten through eighth grade have also been categorized as overweight or obese. Also, the number of New Yorkers who report themselves as overweight or obese has increased from 18 to 23 percent from 2002 to 2010.

Bloomberg claims this proposal is a part of his plan for the city's war on obesity, which will focus on sugary drinks rather than other food because sugary drinks offer nothing nutritionally. Issues of obesity are particularly acute in the African-American community, where some statistics show African-American women with an obesity rate of more than 70 percent. Other health issues related to high intakes of sugar, including diabetes and dental issues, are also major problems for the Black community.

The mayor's proposal categorizes sugary drinks as drinks that use sugar or other high-calorie sweeteners with more than 25 calories in eight ounces. Drinks that are unsweetened, diet or dairy will still be available in sizes greater than 16 ounces. The proposal would have no effect on free refills.

Bloomberg is not the first public figure to be concerned about sugary drinks, fatty foods and the obesity issue. Former first lady of New York Michelle Paige-Paterson, a health care professional and health advocate in the fight against childhood obesity, said, "I have mixed feelings...given the obesity epidemic."

Paterson feels that as a society, a lot of money is spent trying to combat this epidemic, saying that the year before her husband was governor, the state spent upward of $6 billion on different health initiatives. As an alternative, Paterson said she would like to see people take better care of themselves and get health care incentives, much as people who don't smoke get better rates on life insurance and people with good driving records get cheaper car insurance.

Usual Bloomberg critic New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has publicly given his full support to Bloomberg on this issue, saying, "As a parent, I know that every time my kids walk down the aisle at our neighborhood deli, they are confronted with more bad choices than good ones. It's an uphill battle that is taking a terrible toll on families across this city--and no one will pay a higher cost than our children if we fail to act.

"Mayor Bloomberg understands that we are losing the fight against obesity and it is time for a new approach. I commend the mayor for"

New Yorkers have a mixed response to the mayor's plan. Albert Anderson said, "I think Mayor Bloomberg shouldn't impose on people's rights... There should be a limit to what he can do."