HEALTH

New York City bans sugary drinks of more than 16 ounces

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NEW YORK (AP) - New York City's Board of Health opened up a new, experimental front in the war on obesity Thursday, passing a rule banning sales of big sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, concession stands, and other eateries.

The regulation, which was proposed in the spring by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and approved by panel of health experts after several months of review, puts a 16-ounce size limit on cups and bottles of non-diet soda, sweetened teas, and other calorie-packed beverages.

The ban will apply in fast-food joints, movie houses and Broadway theaters, workplace cafeterias, and most other places selling prepared food.

It doesn't cover beverages sold in supermarkets or most convenience stores.

The restaurant and beverage industries have assailed the plan is misguided. They say the city's health experts are exaggerating the role sugary beverages have played in making Americans fat.

One board member, Dr. Sixto R. Caro, abstained from voting. The other 8 board members voted yes.

"I am still skeptical. This is not comprehensive enough," Caro said.

Some New Yorkers have also ridiculed the rule as a gross government intrusion and tens of thousands signed a petition, circulated by the industry, voicing their opposition.

The unprecedented regulation would follow other ambitious health moves on Bloomberg's watch.

Some have proven to be national pacesetters, such as making chain restaurants post calorie counts prominently on their menus; McDonald's announced Wednesday that it would start displaying the information nationwide next week, before a federal requirement that could force all major chains to do so next year.

New York City also has barred artificial trans fats from restaurant food and taken aggressive steps to discourage smoking.

Starting this month, dozens of city hospitals are asking mothers of newborns to listen to talks about why they should breast-feed instead of using formula.

Bloomberg and other advocates for the soda plan - who include a roster of doctors and such food figures as chef Jamie Oliver - see it as another pioneering step for public health.

Next page: Move cut could thousands of calories from people's diets

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