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US law: New York mayor faces legal challenge to his 'soda ban'

The mayor of New York City in the United States, Michael Bloomberg, is seeking to ban supersize sugary drinks in the city in a bid to tackle worsening public health.

However, the move looks likely to draw legal challenges from the powerful fast-food lobby and could yet be defeated.

Obesity is a global problem causing an enormous number of health issues including heart disease, strokes and diabetes. The cost of diabetes to governments is spiralling out of control, prompting many to look to innovative ways to tackle the issue.

In New York, the mayor has proposed a change to the city's laws which would allow the Health Department to levy fines on restaurants, theatres and cafes which sell sugary drinks in quantities above 16 fluid ounces (about 475ml).

The city's health board looks likely to pass the change later this year, which could see it become law next spring.

Many expect the country's major fast-food chains to appeal the law; however, expert US commentators believe that a challenge could be futile, prompting the prospect of such laws being exported to other countries around the world.

Michelle Melo is a professor of law at Harvard University.

"There are so many examples where states impose standards on consumer products sold within their borders," she told Reuters.

"It seems hard to believe that this would be singled out as unreasonable by a court," she added.

Tam Fry is a campaigner for the National Obesity Forum here in the UK. He believes the Government should be adopting similar legislation over here.

"London should take a leaf out of New York's book. Everything Michael Bloomberg does is backed up with perfectly good science. If England were to follow more what America was doing then we would be in a much better situation," he told the Evening Standard.

Sources:

London urged to follow NY fizzy drink ban (London Evening Standard)

Legal challenges to New York soda ban face uphill climb (Reuters)