Mayor sparks row with soft drink bans

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New York City’s mayor Michael Bloomberg is proposing an unprecedented ban on the sale of large fizzy drinks in the hopes of combating obesity.

The move has led to calls that America’s largest city is becoming a “nanny state”.

The proposal marks the first time an American city has so directly attempted to limit sugary-drinks.

City officials said they believe it will ultimately prove popular with New Yorkers and push other US authorities towards adopt similar rules.

Mr Bloomberg said in a TV interview: “The percentage of the population that is obese is skyrocketing. We’ve got to do something.”

The plan – expected to win approval from the Bloomberg-appointed Board of Health and take effect as soon as March – is the latest health effort to spark a row over decisions that many say should be left in the hands of individuals.

Coca-Cola hit out at the move, saying: “New Yorkers expect and deserve better than this. They can make their own choices about the beverages they purchase.

“We hope New Yorkers loudly voice their disapproval about this arbitrary mandate.”

The proposal would impose a 16-ounce (almost half a litre) limit on sugary drinks sold at restaurants, movie theatres, sports venues and street vendor carts. It would apply to bottled drinks – many plastic soda bottles contain 20 ounces – as well as other dispensers.

Mr Bloomberg said people who want to drink more than 16 ounces would still be free to order two drinks. But he said restricting sodas to 16 ounces could help curb consumption.

“You tend to eat all of the food in the container. If it’s bigger, you eat more. If somebody put a smaller glass or plate or bowl in front of you, you would eat less,” he said.

It would reverse a trend that has been under way for decades. In the 1950s, McDonald’s offered only one size for soft drinks: seven ounces, city officials said.