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Dieting companies back curbs on sugary drinks

The city's planned crackdown on supersized 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, at a news conference with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a top Weight Watchers official, was the latest in a volley of statements for 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.

"Today, we live in a world where despite our best intentions, it's oftentimes very difficult on your own to make the healthy choice," said David Burwick, president of Weight Watchers North America.

The proposal is set for a Sept. 13 vote at the city Board of Health, whose members are appointed by Bloomberg. If approved, it would take effect as early as March.

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.

New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, which opposes the plan, says it has the backing of more than 2,000 businesses and 201,000 people.

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