New York judge’s decision to strike down the soda ban is basically a medical miracle

Mayor Bloomberg’s decision to ban large, sugary drinks in New York City has been roundly ridiculed as an example of draconian nanny-state overreach in the name of improved life expectancy, thinner waistlines, and lower health-care costs.

As you may have heard, the proposed law was just struck down just in time to save the oversized sugary beverage industry — and I don’t mean because the high-fructose corn syrup alternate isn’t Kosher for Passover:

A judge invalidated New York City’s ban on large sugary drinks on Monday, one day before it was to go into effect, dealing Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg a major blow.

Opponents of the law will undoubtedly delight in the judge’s seemingly-perfect timing, but I feel obligated to note that it could have been better: had the judge ruled last Thursday, we wouldn’t have to await the end of Jon Stewart’s two-week vacation to watch him to celebrate victory. Coincidentally, Stewart’s vacation will return him to television just in time for more Passover jokes. It’s always a surprise when it happens every year.

While advocates and opponents alike digest the ramifications of today’s ruling, I want to focus on a somewhat overlooked aspect of the case:

The decision by Justice Milton A. Tingling Jr. of State Supreme Court in Manhattan blocks the city from putting the rules into effect or enforcing them.

Justice Tingling said the rule banning the drinks was “arbitrary and capricious.”

In his opinion, Justice Tingling specifically cited a perceived inequity of the soda rules, which applies to only certain sugared drinks — for instance, beverages with a high milk content would be exempt — and would apply only to some food establishments, like restaurants, but not others, like convenience stores.

“It applies to some but not all food establishments in the city,” Justice Tingling wrote. “It excludes other beverages that have significantly higher concentrations of sugar sweeteners and/or calories.”

Fascinating jurisprudence, I’m sure, but I — like Mayor Bloomberg — am most interested in what Judge Tingling’s ruling means for the spread of diabetes in New York City. According to — second only to WebMD in the field of medical self-diagnosis — “the first sign of diabetic neuropathy is numbness and/or tingling in the extremities”. [Editor’s note: as always, bold added for emphasis.]

In other words, today’s ruling represents an unusual case in which Tingling was the cause — rather than the result — of diabetes. Quick, someone write that up for the New Journal England of Medicine.


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