2012-09-14 / Top Stories

Weight Watchers Supports Sugar Ban

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs and Health Commissioner Thomas A. Farley were joined by Weight Watchers President Dave Burwick to announce Weight Watchers’ support for the City’s plan to limit the size of sugary drinks sold at food service establishments to 16 ounces or less. Sugary beverages are a leading driver of the obesity epidemic, which is worsening around the country.

The proposal will be voted on by the New York City Board of Health on September 13. Nearly 60 percent of New York City adults and 40 percent of children are overweight or obese and one in eight adult New Yorkers has diabetes. The City also released statements of support from weight loss experts, including the creator of the Best Life Diet, the creator of the South Beach Diet, the CEO of Jenny Craig, the creator of the Dukan Diet and the creator of Picture Perfect Weight Loss.

The Mayor made the announcement at Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, a Make NYC Your Gym location, where he was joined by Weight Watchers member and Queens resident Rachelle Conley who recently lost 91 pounds and attributes much of her successful weight loss to ending her consumption of sugary drinks, as well as Councilmember Gale Brewer.

“It’s time to face the facts: obesity is one of America’s most deadly problems, and sugary beverages are a leading cause of it,” said Bloomberg. “As the size of sugary drinks has grown, so have our waistlines – and so have diabetes and heart disease. As weight-loss experts can attest, men and women struggle every day to lose weight, or even to just not gain a few pounds – and portion control is key to success. Our proposal for reasonable portion sizes won’t prevent anyone from buying or drinking as much soda as they want, but it will help people keep from inadvertently taking in junk calories simply because the small drink they ordered was actually very large.”

“There has been a lot of discussion about obesity, but little action, which is why we at Weight Watchers support what this administration is doing to help New Yorkers live healthier,” said David Burwick, president, North America, Weight Watchers. “It is only with this kind of commitment and community based support that major strides can be made against obesity. We hope that more mayors, health departments and businesses will follow New York City’s example to make the healthy choice the easy choice.”

“In a City with large sizes of highcalorie snack foods and beverages at your fingertips around the clock, it is no wonder many New Yorkers struggle to maintain a healthy weight,” said Farley. “Today we are proud to have the support of Weight Watchers, a leader in sensible approaches to healthy eating and weight loss. Reducing sugary drinks is the simplest dietary change that people can make to lose weight or avoid gaining weight. We hope that our proposal will help New Yorkers do just that.”

“I joined the Weight Watchers meeting at my workplace and was immediately motivated to change what was in my kitchen. Before losing weight, I would drink 48 ounces of fruit flavored juice drink each day and coffee with 25 – yes, 25 – packets of sugar every morning,” said Rachelle Conley, a mother of three and Weight Watchers member. “Now, I’ve completely cut out sugary beverages, drink mostly water, eat healthy portions and exercise near Flushing Meadows Park. For the first time in my life I’m at a healthy weight range – and I plan on staying here.”

“As we reach a critical point in our country’s battle against obesity and type 2 diabetes, we need bold and effective approaches to combat these twin epidemics,” said Bob Greene, founder of The Best Life. “The proposal to limit the size of sugary beverages is an important step toward addressing these preventable health concerns. These drinks are arguably the number one source of empty calories. My hat’s off to Mayor Bloomberg for working to protect our future and that of our children.”

In addition to limiting the size of sugary drinks, New York City has a comprehensive approach to changing its food and exercise environment and is committed to increasing awareness among New Yorkers about good nutrition, healthy food options and exercise opportunities – such as Make NYC Your Gym and BeFitNYC – as well as improving the availability of healthy food and educating New Yorkers about the importance of a healthy diet.

New Yorkers looking for free and low-cost fitness opportunities can go to www.nyc.gov and search BeFit- NYC to help find the right activity for them.

It lists programs, classes, facilities, and leagues in the Parks Department’s properties as well as those of a number of partner groups. Regular physical activity helps people maintain weight loss.

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