New York City Loses Final Appeal to Ban Big Sodas

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RIP. It took a while, but former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg's large-soda ban is dead and gone. A New York court of appeals refused to reinstate the ban this morning, ruling that the city's health department overstepped its boundaries when it tried to restrict the size of sodas sold in New York. 

The appeals court sides with a lower court that previously overturned the 2012 ban, which aimed to ban the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces. While not every health expert or advocate agreed with the ban in the first place, some consider this a blow to the cause. "Bloomberg's proposal wasn't about robbing people of their personal choice, but rather about how easy and accessible unhealthy foods are, which is really the issue that has caused the tremendous spike in obesity rates," Christopher Ochner, Ph.D., research associate at New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center at St. Luke's Roosevelt hospital, told Shape in an earlier post. “I understand people's concerns about infringing on your personal choice and rights, but the problem is that we have a ton of scientific data that says we will quite literally eat whatever is in front of us."

No one fought louder or harder against the ban than the restaurant and beverage industries, who argued that the ban not only infringed on civil liberties but also was too simplistic of a solution to combat the obesity crisis. (The ban didn't apply to water, diet-soda, alcoholic beverages, or drinks that were more than half milk or juice.)

The New York Times reports this decision may also have long-term implications for the city's Board of Health, which has previously championed high-profile health-related initiatives, such as banning trans fats in restaurants or requiring calorie counts to be printed on menus, and a dissent by Judge Susan P. Read argues that this decision ignores decades of precedent in which the Board of Health was given much more latitude to address a number of public health matters, ranging from regulating the city's use of lead paint in homes to overseeing its water supply. 

Whether you consider this a blow to the health living community or a boon for civil liberties, it's certainly a newsworthy decision. What do you think of the ban being overturned? Will you be celebrating with a Big Gulp or 20-ounce Coke? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @Shape_Magazine!

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