NEW YORK (AP) - A New York City lawyer says a limit on the size of sugary drinks is reasonable and necessary because of an obesity epidemic.
They say it will harm minority businesses and “freedom of choice in low-income communities.”
The measure bars restaurants and many other eateries from selling high-sugar drinks in containers bigger than 16 ounces.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
New York City’s limit on the size of sugary drinks is an “extraordinary infringement” on consumer choice, a lawyer for the American Beverage Association and other critics said in court on Wednesday.
Opponents also are raising questions of racial fairness alongside other complaints as the novel restriction faces a court test.
The NAACP’s New York state branch and the Hispanic Federation have joined beverage makers and sellers in trying to stop the rule from taking effect March 12. Critics are attacking what they call an inconsistent and undemocratic regulation, while city officials and health experts defend it as a pioneering and proper move to fight obesity.
The issue is complex for the minority advocates, especially given that obesity rates are higher than average among blacks and Hispanics, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The groups say in court papers they’re concerned about the discrepancy, but the soda rule will unduly harm minority businesses and “freedom of choice in low-income communities.”
The latest in a line of healthy-eating initiatives during Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration, the beverage rule bars restaurants and many other eateries from selling high-sugar drinks in cups or containers bigger than 16 ounces. Violations could bring $200 fines; the city doesn’t plan to start imposing those until June.
The city Board of Health approved the measure in September. Officials cited the city’s rising obesity rate _ about 24 percent of adults, up from 18 percent in 2002 _ and pointed to studies linking sugary drinks to weight gain. Care for obesity-related illnesses costs more than $4.7 billion a year citywide, with government programs paying about 60 percent of that, according to city Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley.View Entire Story
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