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Super Size This: New York City Becomes 1st City In America To Ban Oversized Sugary Drinks
September 13, 2012
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It's a controversial move, but the Big Apple is banning those big, super-sized sugary drinks that are sold at restaurants, fast-food chains and concession stands.

The New York City health board, appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, passed the ban by a vote of eight members in favour, with one abstaining.

Under the law, drinks larger than 16 ounces (473 ml) are banned almost everywhere they're sold - fast-food places, movie theatres, Broadway theatres, and workplace cafeterias.

The ban will not apply to grocery stores or convenience stores. And it doesn't include diet pop... or should we say soda. It takes effect in March of next year, and will be enforced by city restaurant inspectors. Anyone who violates the ban faces a $200 fine.

City officials say the move is part of a plan to reduce obesity and make the people of New York healthier. The city already has bans on trans fats and smoking.

There are plenty of critics, though. They say the ban infringes on personal freedom, and they're considering going to court to try to block or overturn it.

"It's sad that the board wants to limit our choices. We are smart enough to make our own decisions about what to eat and drink," Liz Berman, a business owner and chairwoman of New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, said in a statement.

Berman's group says it has a petition with more than 250,000 signatures opposing the ban. As well, the restaurant and beverage industries say the city is exaggerating the impact sugary drinks actually have in making people fat.

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Mayor Bloomberg says he knows the ban won't solve the obesity problem, but it's an important first step.

And he points out that "nobody is restricting the amount of sodas you can buy or the amount of sodas you can drink. It is simply using portion control to point out to you... how many calories you are consuming."

Just to give you an idea of how many calories are in a super sized pop, consider this. In a 16 ounce pop, there's about 200 calories. In a 20 ounce pop, there's 240.

Yes, that's only 40 calories but health experts say those calories can add up. For example, if you drink just one super sized pop a day, that's an extra 14,600 calories a year.

That's enough to gain four pounds a year. Keep that up over five years, and you could put on 20 pounds.

About one-third of Americans are obese. In Canada, nearly 60% of all adults and 26% of our children and adolescents are overweight or obese, according to The Heart and Stroke Foundation.

That eats up a lot of money when it comes to health care, especially when you consider obesity is commonly linked to heart disease, stroke and diabetes. In 2008, the economic cost of obesity in Canada was estimated to be $4.6 billion. That was up about 19% from $3.9 billion in 2000.

Journalist and best-selling author Michael Pollan has written several books related to food and obesity, including The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food. A few seasons ago, he had a fascinating conversation with George about what we should be eating. Check that out below.

And last year, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver was in the red chair to talk about creating a healthy food revolution.

In recent years, a number of documentaries have been made about the obesity epidemic and the food industry. If you haven't seen them, here's a few to consider.

">Forks Over Knives - directed by Lee Fulkerson. This film examines the idea that heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other diseases could almost always be prevented, if we give up eating meat and processed foods, and adopt a whole foods, plant-based diet. Roger Ebert called it "a film that could save your life."

Food Inc - directed by Emmy-award winner Robert Kenner. The film explores corporate farming in America and concludes that the industry produces food that is unhealthy and harmful to the environment. It was nominated for an Oscar for best documentary.

HBO's The Weight of the Nation - a documentary series that examines the obesity epidemic in America, featuring case studies, interviews with leading experts, and individuals and their families struggling with obesity. The series is divided into four parts: Consequences, Choices, Children in Crisis, and Challenges.

Super Size Me - directed by and starring Morgan Spurlock. Over the course of 30 days, Spurlock eats nothing but McDonald's food. He says he gained 24 1/2 pounds, which took him more than a year to lose. The film was nominated for an Oscar for best documentary.

Fat Head - directed by and starring comedian Tom Naughton. This film questions the claims and ideas put forward in Super Size Me. Naughton also challenges the notion that a high fat diet leads to increased rates of heart disease. And he questions whether it's possible to live on fast food and lose weight.

If you're looking to get healthier and eat better, a great place to go is cbc.ca/liverightnow. They've got tips, recipes, videos - everything you need for the entire family.

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