Henrietta Davis, the mayor of Cambridge, Massachusetts, is contemplating a ban on soda and sugar-sweetened beverages, and has requested that city health officials provide recommendations on adopting regulations for the size of sugary sodas served in the city.
Davis, who also serves on a community coalition about children’s health, is considering ways of incentivizing restaurants and stores to cut back on sugar sweetened soda.
“The target of this effort is super-sized and oversized sugary drinks, especially when children are the primary consumers.”
Davis’s proposal was inspired by New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed soda ban that would prohibit the sale of large sugared drinks over 16-ounces at most public venues.
“Malnutrition in this country is not only a problem of not getting enough to eat, but also consuming way too many empty, sugary calories,” she said.
Davis said Cambridge, which is across the Charles River from Boston and is home to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, had already enacted important health policies related to smoking and unhealthy trans fats.
She said she hoped the request for recommendations on sugary drinks “gets the ball rolling on limiting the amount of soda consumed by children and adults in our community.”
Davis cited an increased risk of obesity and diabetes as reasoning behind the resolution.
“As much free will as you can have in a society is a good idea,” Davis said Tuesday. “… But with a public health issue, you look at those things that are dangerous for people, that need government regulation.”
Davis also said regulation might not be necessary to prevent the sale of large-sized sugary beverages in Cambridge, suggesting city officials could propose a voluntary compliance agreement to vendors or create an incentive program to encourage cooperation.
Don Puzy, the manager of a 7-Eleven in the city, called the mayor’s proposal “absolutely crazy,” claiming that he sells a lot of the store’s signature Big Gulps, but said it’s mostly grownups who buy them.
“We appreciate her trying to do something about the kids, their weight, but that is not the way to go about it,” Puzy said of the mayor’s proposal. “There are a lot of programs for it…starting from the schools…Don’t put it on the stores.”
The 44-ounce Super Big Gulps served at New York’s 7-Eleven stores are exempt from Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed soda ban. Also exempt are convenience stores, grocery stores and drug stores.