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Political Foes Laud Mayor On Proposed Large Sugary Drink Ban

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When it comes to the issue of obesity, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is getting some support from elected officials that are not always on his side.

During a visit to Montefiore Medical Center in the Norwood section of the Bronx on Tuesday, the mayor was joined by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer to highlight the negative health impacts of obesity.

Bloomberg also reacted to a NY1/Marist College that shows that 53 percent of New Yorkers are opposed to the mayor's proposal to ban large sugary drinks over 16 ounces and only 42 percent are in favor. The mayor found the numbers encouraging.

“Nobody quite understands it yet. The press has made all sorts of fun about it," said Bloomberg. "If you take a look compared to where we were with smoking and those kinds of things, you wait a few weeks and you will see that people want this done.”

The mayor said complications from being overweight leads to the deaths of more than 6,000 New Yorkers every year. He also noted 60 percent of city residents qualify as being obese, and that $4 billion is spent annually on obesity-related treatments.

"Mr. Mayor I've got to tell you I have a lot of appreciation for the approach you've taken to public health in these last 10 years," de Blasio said. "It's fair to say from time to time we disagree on some other issues but I think you have consistently set a visionary approach on areas of public health, starting most notably with the smoking ban."

"Mayor Bloomberg's proposal is now a national proposal. He used his bully pulpit in a way that will create a very important health debate in this country. We have to stand with him on this regardless of polls, regardless of political consequence," Stringer said.

"Both these guys stand there make their own decisions and I respect them for it I happen to think that this is the right thing to do, I hope everybody else will come along and do exactly the same thing," Bloomberg said.

Both de Blasio and Stringer are potential candidates for the 2013 mayoral race.

As for the other potential Democratic mayoral candidates, former City Comptroller Bill Thompson has blasted the ban and City Comptroller John Liu, a self-admitted Big Gulp drinker, has concerns.

“I think the intent is good, but will it achieve its purpose? It’s unclear,” said Liu.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn believes it's the wrong approach.

“I worry that although I understand the urge, in the end it won't have the positive result," Quinn said last week. "Because the person who doesn't now understand why it's bad to simply drink 18 ounces of sugared soda is simply going to get two 10-ounce sodas."

When asked if that would factor into who he backs next year, Mayor Bloomberg said he wasn't there to talk politics.

Meanwhile, First Lady Michelle Obama clarified comments that seemed to suggest she supported the mayor's proposal to ban large sugary drinks.

In an interview with the Associated Press, the First Lady said there is no "one size fits all approach" to fix the country's health problems.

But Mrs. Obama's communications director said the first lady was not weighing in on this specific debate. Rather, she was trying to make the point that every community is different and every solution is different.

She also applauds any leader who takes this issue seriously and works toward a solution.

The first lady is leading the charge in fighting childhood obesity and trying to get Americans to eat better.

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