Colby Hamilton, Writer, WNYC News
Colby Hamilton is a general assignment reporter. He originally joined WNYC as a political blogger. He's a proud graduate of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg responded to the push back his office is receiving over a proposed ban on large sugary drinks, saying those opposed to the curtailing of sugary beverage consumption “don’t want…people to live” longer, healthier lives.
Bloomberg was responding specifically to the negative response his plan was receiving in some low-income neighborhoods. The mayor used a statistic in a recent report from the city’s health department to support his proposal. According to the report, the gap in life expectancy between the city’s lowest and highest-income neighborhoods is four years.
“This is craziness,” Bloomberg said. “These people who are out there who literally don’t want these people to live four years longer.”
The beverage industry has reportedly begun a street campaign aimed at defeating Bloomberg’s proposal. A new, grassroots group has been formed called New Yorkers for Beverage choice, which, on its website, declares that “consumers have the right to purchase beverages in whatever size they choose.”
The administration has proposed a size limit on sugary drinks at restaurants and other food service establishments to 16-ounces or smaller.
Bloomberg said that “it was time we maybe did something” about the lower life expectancy in low-income communities “rather than listen to a few people who are just worried about their bottom line.”
The mayor’s comments came during a press conference announcing the expansion of the city’s Health Bucks. The program provides a $2 Health Bucks coupon for every $5 in food stamps spent on fruits and vegetables at the city’s farmers markets. The program will now be available at all 138 markets across the city, up from the 65 markets last year.