A judge in New York on Monday blocked city mayor Michael Bloomberg’s planned ban on giant sodas, just a few hours before restrictions on the sale of such drinks were due to come into effect.
Judge Milton Tingling ruled that the measures to restrict soda servings to a maximum of 16 ounces (470 milliliters) in fast-food and other restaurants, was an “arbitrary” measure and he was barring the plan “permanently.”
The decision is a defeat for Bloomberg, who had trumpeted the measure as an important step toward tackling obesity.
Industry lobby groups led by the American Beverage Association and the National Restaurant Association took the city to court over the limited ban.
According to official statistics, some 6,000 people in New York die each year from obesity-linked problems. One in eight adult New Yorkers has diabetes, which can be aggravated by sugar consumption.
The New York Board of Health approved the measures last September and they were due to come into force on Tuesday in restaurants and places of public entertainment, such as stadiums.
Under the measures put forward by the city there was nothing to stop people from buying as much soda as they like by refilling smaller containers.
Also, the ban did not extend to drinks sold in supermarkets or any dairy or fruit drinks, many of which also contain huge quantities of sugar.
Diet and alcoholic drinks had also exempted under the city’s plan.
[Young man drinking soda via Shutterstock]