Supersized soda ban decision expected Thursday

Soda bottles like these, when sold at convenience

Soda bottles like these, when sold at convenience stores or supermarkets, would not be subject to new city limits on the size of sugary drinks because New York City does not regulate them. (Credit: Getty Images)

The city is expected to seal the deal on the ban on supersized sodas Thursday but the proposal's opponents say they will keep fighting.

A representative for New Yorkers for Beverage Choices -- a coalition of soda companies and restaurants -- said the group has the backing of 250,000 New Yorkers and will continue to find ways to contest the ban, even if it means going to court.

"We're going to very carefully read the final ruling and will explore our options," coalition spokesman Eliot Hoff said.

The ban, spearheaded by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, will be voted on by board members of the city Department of Health Thursday morning .

Once passed, the ban would go into effect in March and any city business that receives a letter grade from the Health Department would be fined if it sells sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces.

Supermarkets would be exempt since they are regulated by the state. Hoff said that exclusion puts a strain on mom and pop stores in inner city communities.

City health experts, however, say new data show the measure is needed now more than ever.

A Health Department study of six neighborhoods found that areas with more sugary drinks stocked in stores had higher soda consumption rates.

The study said that 46 percent of residents in the South Bronx, Central Harlem and East New York drink more than one soda a day compared with 27 percent of residents in Greenpoint, Astoria and the Upper West Side.

The neighborhoods with the higher soda consumption had an average of 11.4 varieties of soda on sale and only 4.1 varieties of low calorie drinks, the study said. The low consumption communities had an average of 10.4 varieties of soda and 5.6 low calorie drinks.

Susan Kansagra, a Health Department assistant commissioner, said the study, which was commissioned before the soda ban was announced, was startling because of the high obesity rates in high-consumption neighborhoods.

"Sugary drinks are the single largest factor for increase in calories in our diet," she said.

Hoff said his alliance is also concerned with the obesity rates but feels the city should not sacrifice consumer choice in its health battle.

"The opposition of New Yorkers to this is clear. The board of health knows that and the mayor knows that," he said.

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