In September 2012, the New York City Board of Health approved a ban on many sweetened beverages in containers over 16 ounces. If the beverage industry is unsuccessful in contesting this decision, the ban will take effect in March 2013. NYC’s Board of Health rationalizes that the ban boldly confronts the obesity epidemic ravaging New York City and across the country. Controversy has sparred around whether this solution is more political than health driven. Is the banning of large, sugary drinks a health solution and/or good health policy?
Megan Douglas, JD says…
“The Board of Health should be applauded for its effort to attract attention to the obesity epidemic. Unfortunately, forcing the conversation may be the only effective outcome of the policy. Since the regulation is limited in its application to food vendors, NY residents can still get large sugary drinks from other sources, such as convenience and grocery stores. And it is too soon to know whether a ban on these drinks will have any impact on obesity-related health outcomes. Although many people have taken issue with the regulation’s attack on individual autonomy, much of the health care cost burden of the obesity epidemic is felt by taxpayers as a whole, whether they choose to eat healthy or not, so it only seems fair that people who choose unhealthy drinks be forced to think twice before indulging.”
Jammie Hopkins, DrPH, MS says…
“Given the rapid, unrelenting spread of obesity across the U.S. and its associated economic and health-related consequences, I believe the sugary drink ban is sound public health policy. There is no question that steadily increasing food and beverage portion sizes, over-consumption of calorie-dense foods, and physical inactivity have contributed to the epidemic of expanding waistlines in the U.S. We have essentially created an “obesogenic” environment that must be deconstructed if we are to have any chance of turning the tide on this epidemic. The sugary drink ban is an audacious yet crucial move toward promoting healthier food and beverage consumption habits.”
Source: lizasperling (Flickr/CC)
[ These comments appear courtesy the Health Policy Leadership Fellows at the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine. Dr. Renée Volny, a Policy Prescriptions ® contributor, currently serves as interim associate director of the Fellowship and has encouraged her Fellows to engage in discussions on current health policy topics. The best discussion points put forth will be featured on our site. ]