Atlanta — Unlike Las Vegas, what happens in New York City doesn't always stay in New York City.
Just months after the Big Apple made it illegal to serve sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces in restaurants, movie theaters and delis, other cities also are considering putting restrictions on soft drinks, part of a multi-front effort to address American's growing obesity problem.
It's a move that, if it picks up steam, could rock the multi-billion-dollar industry that's led by Atlanta-based Coca-Cola. Carbonated drinks — for the most part, sodas — constitute almost half of the industry's business and almost 24 percent of drinks in movie theaters and restaurants.
That's left the beverage industry scrambling, sinking millions into media campaigns that portray the measures as Big Brother interfering in personal choice. The industry also has filed a lawsuit challenging New York's law and is stepping up its efforts to put calorie counts on vending machines and to offer sodas in smaller cans.
"The reality is the decision in New York that affirmed Mayor (Michael) Bloomberg probably gives mayors in other cities a way to make a statement like that," said Tim Mescon, an economist and president of Columbus State University. A check with local officials found no such moves being considered in metro Atlanta or Georgia.
Since 2009, municipalities across the nation and around the world have launched efforts to either tax or limit sugar-sweetened drinks in some public buildings, schools and even churches, according to the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.
On any given day, about half of the population over the age of 2 consumes a sugary drink, according to a Centers for Disease Control report. At the same time, Americans are heavier now than ever. A recent report by Trust for America's Health found that, by 2030, the U.S. could have an adult obesity rate above 44 percent. The group said Georgia's obesity rate could be 53.6 percent by 2030.