I testified at the packed hearing in New York City on Wednesday July 24th in favor of Mayor Bloomberg's sugary drink portion size cap.
If I had to sum up the industry opposition expressed at the hearing it would be:
- We need more focus on physical activity and less on fizzy drinks.
- Education is the answer to NYC's obesity crisis and Big Soda has the programs in place to do that.
- Mayor Bloomberg is trampling on consumer freedom.
- This measure is a job killer.
And here's my rebuttal:
- There is absolutely no evidence that an increase in physical activity, without a significant change in daily diet, will have an impact on obesity and Body Mass Indices.
I presented a slide (link below) that listed 18 likely beverage industry "astroturf" coalitions in the United States. These coalitions spring up wherever a portion cap or sugary drink tax is proposed. Media outlets have traced a number of these so-called "grassroots" coalitions and found that they are actually bankrolled and organized by the American Beverage Association through their hired issue advocacy firm, Goddard Gunster.
The deep-pocketed American Beverage Association, which is funded by Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Dr. Pepper/Snapple and others, apparently hopes to frame Mayor Bloomberg's proposal as a job-killing assault on consumer freedom that won't make a difference. But in reality, it's the beverage industry that has trampled on consumer freedom and health, by supersizing portion sizes to steadily increase profits. With the U.S. obesity and diabetes epidemics heavily linked to an increased consumption of sugary drinks, it's hardly a stretch to say that Big Soda's supersizing and marketing tactics are leading to increased rates of chronic disease and premature death.
I'm hopeful that the New York City Board of Health will approve the measure to bring portion sizes back to normal, and set a healthy example for the rest of the nation.
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