Public health thwarted – National Consumers League

By Teresa Green, Linda Golodner Food Safety & Nutrition Fellow

In our staff meeting this morning I announced that I was planning to write a blog to celebrate tomorrow’s implementation of New York City’s limits on the sale of sugary beverages over 16 ounces. Since Mayor Bloomberg announced the measure, NCL has been behind it, and our Executive Director Sally Greenberg, actually traveled to New York City to testify in support of the measure. I planned to write about the impact that sodas have on our health, and the way that sugary beverages have contributed to obesity. I planned to applaud the Major for his forward thinking when it comes to public health matters; we feel strongly that any measure which helps us consumer fewer sweetened beverages is a good one.

However, as I was working on my blog post, news began to filter in that a New York judge had issued an injunction barring the Mayor’s proposal from going into effect. My blog post of the morning was no longer the right one to post. While all of the positive things I had written about the soda ban were still true, the bigger issue now was that this common-sense ban has been delayed if not completely derailed. Judge Milton Tingling argues that the rules are “fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences,” and I feel the same way about childhood obesity. How arbitrary for our children that they grow up in an era where the very fabric of society predisposes them towards poor health; in fact more than two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, meaning most kids will likely end up that way as well unless we change something. Placing reasonable limits on the sale of sugary beverages by certain establishments certainly seemed like a great place to start. Mayor Bloomberg has said he will challenge the judge’s ruling, and we can only hope he will be successful.