If New York City bans big sodas, what's next on the list? Large slices of pizza? Double-scoop ice cream cones? Tubs of movie-theater popcorn? The 16-ounce strip steak?

The proposed crackdown on supersized drinks could face a legal challenge from those who oppose the first-in-the-nation rule and fear the city isn't going to stop with beverages.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to bar restaurants, movie theaters, sports arenas, food carts and delis from selling sodas and other sugary drinks in servings larger than 16 ounces, saying it is a way to fight obesity in a city that spends billions of dollars a year on weight-related health problems.

Whether that's legal, though, is a matter of dispute and may be tested.

"We're going to look at all of our options to protect our business, our rights to do business and our rights not to be discriminated against," said Steve Cahillane, a senior executive with Coca-Cola. "We won't take anything off the table."

The mayor-appointed city Board of Health is expected to approve the measure after a three-month comment period. It could take effect as early as March, unless critics who accuse Bloomberg of instituting a "nanny state" can get courts or state lawmakers to step in.

It's not just businesses and industry groups that could sue. In theory, any individual affected by the ban could bring a legal challenge.

But it wouldn't be enough to simply claim that the ban infringes on personal freedom, said Rick Hills, a New York University law professor specializing in local government law and New York City.

While Bloomberg administration officials say they have no plans to move against solid foods, any local government could ban red meat -- or even all animal products -- without violating a person's right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, Hills said.

"The court has never struck down a health measure that was designed to protect people from unsafe diets or unsafe foods," he said. Whether the ban is on rat poison or on sugar, government is allowed to protect people from themselves, he said.

And Hills said that opponents would have to do more than argue that the law affects one source of sugar more than others. Courts, he said, have repeatedly ruled that the government can try to eradicate societal ills one step at a time.

Rob Bookman, an attorney who has represented the New York Restaurant Association, predicted opponents will argue that the city Health Department is overstepping its authority and infringing on federal or state power.

He said the sugary-drink rule would set a dangerous precedent: If the ban is within the city's rights, then there's nothing to prevent, for example, a prohibition on the 16-ounce New York strip steak, he suggested.

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Babylon village heroes fountain … High rip current risk … Guns & Pot Credit: Newsday

North Amityville crash ... Montauk parking ... Northport/East Northport time capsule ... Make your own charm bracelet

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