Continued from page 1

“The loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the stated purpose,” Tingling wrote.

Tingling, a Democrat elected to the trial court bench in 2001, said the Bloomberg-appointed Board of Health intruded on the elected City Council’s authority when it imposed the rule.

The appeal likely will turn on whether a higher court “feels that the mayor has gone too far in ruling by decree in bypassing City Council,” said Rick Hills, a New York University law professor who has been following the case.

In defending the rule, city officials point to the city’s rising obesity rate _ about 24 percent of adults, up from 18 percent in 2002 _ and to studies tying sugary drinks to weight gain.

The judge acknowledged obesity’s effects on residents and noted that those suing didn’t dispute that obesity is a significant health issue, but he questioned how much sugary drinks can be blamed for it. Ultimately, Tingling said, the key issue is not whether obesity is an epidemic but whether the board of health has the jurisdiction to decide that obesity is such an issue that it could issue a cap on consumption of sugary drinks.

The judge found that the regulation was “laden with exceptions based on economic and political concern.”

Critics said the measure was too limited to have a meaningful effect on New Yorkers’ waistlines. And they said it would take a bite out of business for the establishments that had to comply, while others still could sell sugary drinks in 2-liter bottles and supersized cups.

While some eateries held off making changes because of the court challenge, some restaurants had begun using smaller glasses for full-sugar soda. Dunkin’ Donuts shops have been telling customers they will have to sweeten and flavor their own coffee. Coca-Cola has printed posters explaining the rules.

Frames Bowling Lounge, a bowling alley and upscale bar in Manhattan, developed _ and is keeping _ a slate of fresh-squeezed juices as an alternative to pitchers of sodas for family parties. That entailed investing staff time, buying new glasses and changing menus, executive general manager Ayman Kamel said.

“All that cost a lot of money, but you have to go with the flow,” he said, and customers have started calling about the new juices.

“We’re all very excited about it,” he said.

___

Associated Press writers Meghan Barr, Verena Dobnik and Deepti Hajela contributed to this report.

___

Follow Jennifer Peltz at http://twitter.com/jennpeltz