Frothy Debate at First Hearing on Large Sugary Drink Ban

The city’s proposed ban on large sugary drinks drew a mixed opinions Tuesday during the first public hearing on the controversial plan.

The packed hearing in Long Island City, Queens, was filled with dozens of soda lobbyists, health care industry professionals, politicians and other interested parties who wanted to share their opinion on the Mayor Michael Bloomberg-backed proposal.

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, an opponent of the proposal, said the city should focus on encouraging kids and adults to exercise and educate them about obesity and diabetes.  

“With kids glued to their computer screens, iPods and iPads and other electronic devices all day, only their fingers are getting the workout and not their bodies,” he said.

The ban’s supporters say the proposal is just the first step to teaching the public about healthy diets and portion control. They say the ban could bring healthier choices to lower income neighborhoods and areas that suffer from obesity and diabetes.

“The environment of our fellow New Yorkers who live in areas that are affected by obesity must change, and must change drastically so that it will be easier for them to make healthier choices,” said Stephen Beasley, a representative from the non-profit group CAMBA.

The proposal bans sugary drinks over 16 ounces at places that prepare and sell food.

The health board is schedule to vote on the proposed ban September 13.