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New Yorkers, businesses brace for city's big-soda ban

A 32-ounce soda is filled at a Manhattan

A 32-ounce soda is filled at a Manhattan McDonalds. (Sept. 13, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

Ready or not, the city's ban on oversized sugary drinks is set to take effect on Tuesday, and it's already affecting diets in the Big Apple.

Some fast-food chains, restaurants and other eateries have begrudgingly prepped for the new regulations, while New Yorkers have altered their fizz intake.

City nutritionists say they've seen a rise in clients who are more conscious about the size of their soda ever since Mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced the ban in May.

"I do see an alert and an awareness of how much soda they are drinking," Queens nutritionist and dietitian Maria Moriarty said. "They're reading the bottle and seeing how many ounces are in a bottle."

The regulation awaits a judge's decision on a lawsuit filed by the soda companies, but the city said it will stick by its launch date so that it can tackle its 58 percent obesity rate.

Under the ban, the city would level a $200 fine per violation against any city establishment with a health department letter grade that sells sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces. Diet drinks with fewer than 25 calories per 8 ounces, dairy products and alcoholic drinks are exempt from the regulation.

A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that New Yorkers were almost evenly divided on whether they approve of the ban.

Lisa Young, an adjunct professor of nutrition at NYU, said that despite some outcry, New Yorkers are getting the message and scaling back on their soda.

"Even if you're opposed to it, you become more aware how ridiculously large these sodas have become," she said.

The food industry, however, is more reluctant to change.

The courts have not made a ruling or responded to the request for a stay on the ban from plaintiffs, including the American Beverage Association and the NAACP, which could delay the regulation. Because of this limbo, some business owners said they haven't started preparing their shops for the ban.

The Health Department said it would give businesses a three-month grace period on fines.

With Anna Sanders