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NYC Health Department Approves Bloomberg Soda Ban

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On September 13, the Board of Health of New York City passed a ban on the sale of large sodas over 16 ounces, to take effect in March, 2013. The regulation is set to limit the consumption of non-diet sodas, sweet teas and other heavily caloric beverages. The ban will not apply to water, diet soda or unsweetened teas. It will also not apply to natural herbal sugar substitutes such as anise, cinnamon and stevia, which are sold at most health food stores. Beverages sold in convenience stores and supermarkets are also excluded. At bottom, soda manufacturers do have a good alternative to substitute sugar for herbal preparations that do not have the same penalty as sugar in raising glucose levels to abnormal highs.

New Yorkers for Beverage Choices has opposed the ban and may seek legal action against the City of New York to lift it. If the ban is litigated, the initial decision of the lower court may be examined on appeal according to an “arbitrary and capricious standard” which means that the finding of a lower court will not be disturbed by a higher court unless it has no rational basis. The argument of New Yorkers for Beverage Choices is that business owners and restaurants in particular may be hurt financially by the ban. That may be true; however, people in opposition to the ban must consider the alarming level of childhood diabetes in NYC and elsewhere.

Diabetes isn’t the only problem. There are other issues, such as childhood morbid obesity, gross imbalances in the blood chemistry and damage to vital internal organs like the liver. Examples of these imbalances would be the glucose level and the A1C rolling average indicator as reported on standard blood tests.

Opponents are reviewing the legal options against New York City which are limited by the advice of medical clinicians on the recommended sugar allotment in the daily diet. Thirty seven grams of sugar is a popular limit. Most small cans of soda (8 ounces) have approximately that amount. A 16 ounce soda weighs in at nearly 75 grams of sugar. With  a 37 gram limit in the daily diet, any soda sized above 16 ounces would have a prohibitive sugar content. This prohibitive area is the subject of the Mayor’s ban which has now been affirmed unanimously by the city health department.

Another option to banning sodas above 16 ounces would be to impose a robust excess consumption tax on the incremental consumption beyond the legal limit of 16 ounces. These tax revenues could be utilized for public education, as well as supplemental revenue for the Medicaid program which funds health care for child diabetics who come from poor families.

An additional option would be to place a label warning of the impact of excess sugar on the liver, pancreas and the blood chemistry on sodas above 16 ounces. Ultimately, the safer ground for the city or any governmental unit is to place an excess consumption tax on the behavior to be penalized and to utilize tax revenues to supplement Medicaid.

Whatever the city does ultimately, parents, children, teachers, physical education administrators and family physicians will have a vested interest in the outcome.

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About Dr Joseph S Maresca

I've taught approx. 34 sections of collegiate courses including computer applications, college algebra, collegiate statistics, law, accounting, finance and economics. The experience includes service as a Board Director on the CPA Journal and Editor of the CPA Candidates Inc. Newsletter. In college, I worked as a statistics lab assistant. Manhattan College awarded a BS in an allied area of operations research. The program included courses in calculus, ordinary differential equations, probability, statistical inference, linear algebra , the more advanced operations research, price analysis and econometrics. Membership in the Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society was granted together with the degree. My experience includes both private account and industry. In addition, I've worked extensively in the Examinations Division of the AICPA from time to time. Recently, I passed the Engineering in Training Exam which consisted of 9 hours of examination in chemistry, physics, calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, probability/ statistics, fluids, electronics, materials science/structure of matter, mechanics, statics, thermodynamics, computer science, dynamics and a host of minor subject areas like engineering economics. A very small percentage of engineers actually take and pass the EIT exam. The number has hovered at circa 5%. Several decades ago, I passed the CPA examination and obtained another license in Computer Information Systems Auditing. A CISA must have knowledge in the areas of data center review, systems applications, the operating system of the computer, disaster recovery, contingency planning, developmental systems, the standards which govern facility reviews and a host of other areas. An MBA in Accounting with an Advanced Professional Certificate in Computer Applications/ Information Systems , an Advanced Professional Certificate in Finance and an Advanced Professional Certificate in Organizational Design were earned at New York University-Graduate School of Business (Stern ). In December of 2005, an earned PhD in Accounting was granted by the Ross College. The program entrance requires a previous Masters Degree for admittance together with a host of other criteria. The REGISTRAR of Ross College contact is: Tel . US 202-318-4454 FAX [records for Dr. Joseph S. Maresca Box 646 Bronxville NY 10708-3602] The clinical experience included the teaching of approximately 34 sections of college accounting, economics, statistics, college algebra, law, thesis project coursework and the professional grading of approx. 50,000 CPA examination essays with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Additionally, membership is held in the Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society chartered in 1994. Significant writings include over 10 copyrights in the name of the author (Joseph S. Maresca) and a patent in the earthquake sciences.
  • Doug Hunter

    The government is responsible for your health, the government owns your body.

    Predictable, but that’s what the majority wants… a nanny state.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Yeah, it was a Real Bad Thing for it to be made law to wear seat belts, or to smoke where it wouldn’t cause harm to other people (and it was the right wing that opposed such laws). And who cares if we the taxpayers have to pay through the nose for the diabetes that people get from imbibing WAY too much sugar.

    It’s funny how right-wingers are so adamant about wrong it is for the government to spend their tax dollars to help the poor, but when it comes to the government passing laws that would SAVE tax dollars by keeping Americans healthier, well, THAT’s just unAmerican!

  • Doug Hunter


    Pretty much yes. Some of us don’t enjoy being the government’s bitch. Have you lost all sense of self or does even the contrarian have a line. Would it be OK for the government to ban or highly tax meat? What about an outright ban on suger… as you stated it caused health problems? Lots of skin cancer could be eliminated if beaches were forbidden, not to mention drowning an shark attacks. Speaking of drowning, we should get rid of swimming pools and bathtubs while we’re at it to save the thousands of people that drown in them. What price is showering over bathing if it saves a few lives?

    See, it’s not hard to be an uber-duber super progressive. Once you lose all regard for freedom there’s no limit to the things you can change in the name of safety. The difference between you and I, is that just because I choose a set of values I don’t believe mine should be written into law to force you to fall in line.

    Sadly, you can’t say the same.

  • Ultimately, Mayor Bloomberg will prevail in the lower courts and the United States Supreme Court
    because the NYC Health Department has the exclusive responsibility for the health of the general
    public. Jurists give a lot of deference to responsibility centers because the people there are accountable
    for the decisions they make.

    Having said that, the morbid obesity is becoming a freakish problem for the city. Many children are
    developing mega-bellies and the childhood diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate. The mayor had
    to do something to try to reverse the trend because the public health hazzard and the costs to
    Medicaid are getting out of control.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doug –

    According to the NYC law, you can still drink just as much soda as you want – you simply can’t buy it in the form of 44oz Super Big Gulps. You can, however, buy three 16oz sodas if that’s what you really want.

    What NYC is doing is simply discouraging doing that which is not good for us…which is the same reason there’s so many taxes on cigarettes, and America’s smoking rate is now down to 20%…unlike in nations in Asia where the cigarettes are much cheaper, and the rate is much higher.

    Two months ago Monday I watched my mother die, with brown stuff filling her mouth and running down her cheeks as she essentially drowned – her body had given up and she was in hospice care at the time. I was holding her hands as she passed. Cigarettes killed her – she’d tried so many times to quit, but she just couldn’t do it – the addiction was too strong. Cigarettes killed her and killed my uncle – the last time I talked to him, he had to hang up because he was too weak to hold the phone to his ear.

    Diabetes killed my grandfather. My brother is diabetic, and it has cost him his lower left leg. He is having a big problem being compliant with the diabetic diet, and I know all too well where it goes from there. My oldest son is morbidly obese, and he just can’t seem to stop himself from eating too much, all the time. He may yet outlive me – I hope so much that he does – but I’m deeply worried about him.

    Doug, there’s an epidemic of diabetes in America – and it’s costing us dearly not only on a personal level, but when it comes to our tax dollars too. Maybe you think it’s “freedom” to be able to do what you want, but there IS such a thing as too much freedom, where being able to do what we want comes at too high a price. I’m losing so many members of my family because they got to eat as much as they want, smoke what they want, drink what they want.

    There are freedoms which are wonderful to have and are worth the blood shed to defend, Doug – like the freedoms to vote, to speak one’s mind, to go whither one will, when one wants to do so. But some of what you call freedoms, when they result in so much unnecessary death and heartbreak, are not freedoms worth defending.

  • The endocrinologist is the doctor of choice for diabetes related manifestations.