With a judge set to hear the city's appeal on the soda ban ruling, officials Monday released new figures showing an alarming increase in diabetes deaths.
The proportion of diabetes-related deaths out of the total number of deaths citywide increased nearly 5 percent between 1990 and 2011, according to data released by the city's health department.
Health officials and experts say the increase, which is greater in some higher poverty neighborhoods, could be turned around.
"It is linked to our epidemic of obesity, and like obesity, it can be prevented," Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said in a statement.
In 2011, 5,695 deaths were related to diabetes, an all-time high, compared with 4,436 in 1990, according to the data. Overall, the disease leads to one death every 90 minutes in the city, the Health Department said.
By comparison, overall deaths in the city dropped 28.5 percent during the same period, from 73,855 to 52,789.
The city released the numbers one day before it was set to appeal the lawsuit that blocked its controversial ban on large sugary sodas.
Maria Moriarty, a Queens nutritionist and dietitian, said she wasn't surprised by the report because many New Yorkers are simply not educated when it comes to a healthy diet.
She added that economics plays a huge factor when it comes to battling diabetes, saying many sufferers "don't have access to doctors or facilities that can cut down on the factors for a healthy lifestyle."