Health News

Sep 4, 2012 6:18 PM by Lauren Molenburg

Weight loss groups back NYC's sugary drinks plan

NEW YORK (AP) -- The city's planned crackdown on super-sized sugary drinks got prominent backing Tuesday from Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and other diet companies, who added their influence to the campaign ahead of a vote next week.

The announcement - made at a press conference featuring Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a top Weight Watchers official - was the latest in a volley of statements of support for both advocates and critics of the plan, which calls for restaurants, movie theaters, sports arenas, food carts and delis to stop selling sodas and other sugary drinks in servings larger than 16 ounces.

Bloomberg and other proponents call it a sensible way to encourage people to cut calories. Opponents see it as government overreaching and question its effectiveness.

To the diet groups, it's a tool that fits with their approach to making healthy eating easier.

Bloomberg has been the leading advocate for the plan, which follows other efforts to spur New Yorkers to mind what they eat. During his 11-year tenure, the city has barred artificial trans fats from food served in restaurants and compelled chain restaurants to post calorie counts on menus.

Still, the city spends roughly $4 billion a year on weight-related health problems, the mayor says. He sees limiting the serving size of sugary drinks as a meaningful step - but not an inflexible order - to keep people from downing calories they might not even think about.

"Nobody is restricting the amount of sodas you can buy or the amount of sodas you can drink," he said, noting that people would be free to purchase multiple 16-ounce cups or bottles if they liked. "It is simply using portion control to point out to you ... how many calories you are consuming."

Opponents say the city is overstepping its authority and infringing on personal freedom. And they call the diet companies' stance inconsistent with their own emphasis on letting people make food choices, rather than absolute limits.

The rule wouldn't apply to lower-calorie drinks, such as water or diet soda, nor to alcoholic beverages or drinks that are more than half milk or 70 percent juice.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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