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New York, NY - Foes Of Bloomberg's Soda Size Limit Doubt Racial Fairness

Published on: January 23, 2013 09:07 AM
By: AP
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EPA/JUSTIN LANEEPA/JUSTIN LANE

New York, NY - Opponents of the city’s limit on the size of sugary drinks 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 effort in trying to stop the rule from taking effect March 12. With a hearing set Wednesday, 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 obesity rates that are higher than average among blacks and Hispanics, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control. 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.”

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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 OK’d 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.

“It would be irresponsible for (the health board) not to act in the face of an epidemic of this proportion,” the city says in court papers. The National Association of Local Boards of Health and several public health scholars have backed the city’s position in filings of their own.

Opponents portray the regulation as government nagging that turns sugary drinks into a scapegoat when many factors are at play in the nation’s growing girth.

The American Beverage Association and other groups, including movie theater owners and Korean grocers, sued. They argue that the first-of-its-kind restriction should have gone before the elected City Council instead of being approved by the Bloomberg-appointed health board.

Five City Council members echo that view in a court filing, saying the Council is “the proper forum for balancing the city’s myriad interests in matters of public health.” The Bloomberg administration counters that the health board, made up of doctors and other health professionals, has the “specialized expertise” needed to make the call on limiting cola sizes.

The suit also argues the rule is too narrow to be fair. Alcohol, unsweetened juice and milk-based drinks are excluded, as are supermarkets and many convenience stores — including 7-Eleven, home of the Big Gulp — that aren’t subject to city health regulations.

The NAACP and the Hispanic Federation, a network of 100 northeastern groups, say minority-owned delis and corner stores will end up at a disadvantage compared to grocery chains.

“This sweeping regulation will no doubt burden and disproportionally impact minority-owned businesses at a time when these businesses can least afford it,” they said in court papers. They say the city should focus instead on increasing physical education in schools.

During Bloomberg’s 11-year tenure, the city also has made chain restaurants post calorie counts on their menus and barred artificial trans fats in french fries and other restaurant food.

In general, state and local governments have considerable authority to enact laws intended to protect people’s health and safety, but it remains to be seen how a court will view a portion-size restriction, said Neal Fortin, director, Institute for Food Laws and Regulations at Michigan State University.


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1

 Jan 23, 2013 at 10:23 AM DrMSPhD Says:

Although I would normally be against the government enacting so called "nanny state" laws, I feel that with the "soda ban" the City does have a case.
In my opinion the City does not care about 'all' obese people. They certainly don't care about the actual health per se of anyone at all. The city only cares about obese people for whom they pay healthcare costs.
Now hear me out a minute. An obese citizen on private insurance has little effect on the city's coffers. Maybe the cost of an ambulance ride - but that's it. However a very large portion of New Yorkers are on city subsidized healthcare. Why is it fair that they can live an extreme lifestyle that leads to obesity on the taxpayers' dime? An appropo idiom "You can't have your cake and eat it too" most certainly applies here.
In the ideal world the soda ban law should only apply to those on city-subsidized healthcare. But we don't live in an ideal world.
This is why I'm scared of Obamacare. If the government is paying for your healthcare they really should be able to force you to live a healthy lifestyle. After all, they are the ones paying for the consequences. I really don't want the government telling me how healthy to be.

2

 Jan 23, 2013 at 10:41 AM esther Says:

the days of mlk type civil rights advocacy are long,long over.so pathetic!

3

 Jan 23, 2013 at 11:10 AM chayamom Says:

If all else fails, bring out the race card. Works like a charm every time!

4

 Jan 23, 2013 at 11:25 AM Anonymous Says:

Consumption of non-diet soda has declined more than 25% in the past 20 years or so. Thus if people are getting fatter (and the charts used to measure "obesity" are a sham), non-diet soda is not to blame.

Of course, don't tell that to Bloomberg and his minions; his goal is not to improve public health, but to become even more of a tyrant than he already is.

5

 Jan 23, 2013 at 12:51 PM ModernLakewoodGuy Says:

The obesity crisis is in part the fault of the parents. I was in the mall the other day and in the food court, there was a child, no older than 3. I watched her consume an entire Cinnabon (1400 calories, 60g of fat) and wash it down with a 20 ounce coke. She then pestered her mother to share some of her fries. That child ate more calories and fat in that one snack than she needs in an entire day, and got zero nutrition. I should add that the mother weighed more than 2 of me combined.

6

 Jan 23, 2013 at 12:54 PM Kzler Says:

Reply to #1  
DrMSPhD Says:

Although I would normally be against the government enacting so called "nanny state" laws, I feel that with the "soda ban" the City does have a case.
In my opinion the City does not care about 'all' obese people. They certainly don't care about the actual health per se of anyone at all. The city only cares about obese people for whom they pay healthcare costs.
Now hear me out a minute. An obese citizen on private insurance has little effect on the city's coffers. Maybe the cost of an ambulance ride - but that's it. However a very large portion of New Yorkers are on city subsidized healthcare. Why is it fair that they can live an extreme lifestyle that leads to obesity on the taxpayers' dime? An appropo idiom "You can't have your cake and eat it too" most certainly applies here.
In the ideal world the soda ban law should only apply to those on city-subsidized healthcare. But we don't live in an ideal world.
This is why I'm scared of Obamacare. If the government is paying for your healthcare they really should be able to force you to live a healthy lifestyle. After all, they are the ones paying for the consequences. I really don't want the government telling me how healthy to be.

Yes you are absolutely right but there are costs evenwhen the private citizen occurs and they are distributed to other. An increase in services mean less profit for the health insurance which distributes these cost when calculating the cost of future [policies and there is a field in math to calculate the riskand you need more knowledge..

7

 Jan 23, 2013 at 01:04 PM Kzler Says:

Reply to #4  
Anonymous Says:

Consumption of non-diet soda has declined more than 25% in the past 20 years or so. Thus if people are getting fatter (and the charts used to measure "obesity" are a sham), non-diet soda is not to blame.

Of course, don't tell that to Bloomberg and his minions; his goal is not to improve public health, but to become even more of a tyrant than he already is.

Ignorance is a bliss maybe true if its Appplies to one self but not to others. Acturarists calculate risk from careless driving, admissions to hospitals , etc. These results are applied when calculating the cost of car insuranxce and health insurance to everyone and for this reason I too pay for sloppy behavior and the "minions" are correct. If his a tyrant then you should use your right of the 2nd amendment . I believe your thought process is dangerous.

8

 Jan 23, 2013 at 02:18 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
Kzler Says:

Ignorance is a bliss maybe true if its Appplies to one self but not to others. Acturarists calculate risk from careless driving, admissions to hospitals , etc. These results are applied when calculating the cost of car insuranxce and health insurance to everyone and for this reason I too pay for sloppy behavior and the "minions" are correct. If his a tyrant then you should use your right of the 2nd amendment . I believe your thought process is dangerous.

#7 you do realize that your second to last sentence advocates an assassination.
Bloomberg believes NYC is his empire which he can control with no public oversight to his actions. Did we vote for this rule? Do we care what his opinions are on gun control or other issues? He is mayor not King Almighty.
The ruling on soda is absurd. If people had things to do like play outside instead of video games inside or do manual labor instead of work in air conditioned office the obesity rates would diminish. Although our diets have become worse, a big factor is how we spend our time and days instead of what we eat. Its not my fault I'm fat its a soda, even though I never get up from my computer chair except for food and soda!

9

 Jan 23, 2013 at 02:53 PM ShmuelG Says:

So the NAACP doesn't really object to the limit on pricipal, tehy just see it as an opportunity for a jessyjacksonesque shakedown. Why am I not surprised?

10

 Jan 23, 2013 at 10:41 PM Huh ?! MPH Says:

Reply to #1  
DrMSPhD Says:

Although I would normally be against the government enacting so called "nanny state" laws, I feel that with the "soda ban" the City does have a case.
In my opinion the City does not care about 'all' obese people. They certainly don't care about the actual health per se of anyone at all. The city only cares about obese people for whom they pay healthcare costs.
Now hear me out a minute. An obese citizen on private insurance has little effect on the city's coffers. Maybe the cost of an ambulance ride - but that's it. However a very large portion of New Yorkers are on city subsidized healthcare. Why is it fair that they can live an extreme lifestyle that leads to obesity on the taxpayers' dime? An appropo idiom "You can't have your cake and eat it too" most certainly applies here.
In the ideal world the soda ban law should only apply to those on city-subsidized healthcare. But we don't live in an ideal world.
This is why I'm scared of Obamacare. If the government is paying for your healthcare they really should be able to force you to live a healthy lifestyle. After all, they are the ones paying for the consequences. I really don't want the government telling me how healthy to be.

Where do you see anything in the obamacare legislation that precludes you from having private insurance.
It's not there.
Your premise is invalid.

11

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