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District 4

Keith Powers

Midtown South-Flatiron-Union Square, Midtown-Times Square, Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village, Murray Hill-Kips Bay, East Midtown-Turtle Bay, United Nations, Upper East Side-Carnegie Hill


September 14, 2022


Kaye Dyja


New York City Council Member Keith Powers Introduces Legislation to Warn Customers of Excess Amounts of Added Sugar Content

Legislation will strengthen public health regulations while creating a healthier environment for New Yorkers

New York, NY – Today, New York City Council Majority Leader Keith Powers introduced legislation to make our city stronger and healthier by requiring chain restaurants—those with 15 or more establishments—to post a sugar warning icon on the menu next to all items exceeding the FDA recommended daily value for added sugar. Council Member Powers is joined by Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, Council Member and Health Committee Chair Lynn Schulman, and 18 other co-sponsors. This bill, Int. 687, expands on this progress by supporting better eating patterns, bolstering public health, and protecting New Yorkers against obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. 

“New Yorkers love eating out, but all too often, there is not enough information about what they are consuming,” said Majority Leader Keith Powers. “A regular fountain soda has 65 grams of sugar—that’s basically drinking 16 teaspoons of pure sugar in one drink. As we navigate the ongoing public health crisis, obesity rates keep rising, and heart disease levels spike, New Yorkers need more transparency and information about what is really in their food.” 

Research shows that high intake of sugar contributes to a range of health issues, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, dental cavities, certain types of cancer, and obesity. However, warnings on sugary drinks give consumers the tools to make healthier choices. Given the pandemic’s devastating impact on New Yorkers’ health and wellbeing, this legislation is vital in making our communities stronger and healthier. 

“This legislation is the critical next step to give New Yorkers the information they need to win the battle against obesity, diabetes, and myriad of other detrimental health problems associated with excess sugar consumption,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “Despite the giant step forward our city took in passing the first generation of this bill, we must continue this fight to ensure large chain restaurants are providing critical information on the amount of sugar added to food products.”

“COVID-19 is the worst public health crisis of our lifetime and changed the course of public health issues, such as Diabetes,” said Council Member and Health Chair, Lynn Schulman. “In the first COVID surge, New York City sustained a staggering 356% increase in diabetes deaths, the most in the nation and the largest increase of any state. Excessive sugar consumption is the primary cause of Type 2 Diabetes, which is why I am proud to be a co-sponsor this legislation that gives restaurant patrons the ability to monitor their sugar intake.”

“We need the Sweet Truth Act so that New Yorkers will be able to see at a glance whether the drink, dessert, entrée, or side dish they’re about to order has more than a day’s worth of added sugars,” said Center of Science in the Public Interest Senior Policy Associate, DeAnna Nara. “We are grateful for the leadership of Council Majority Leader Keith Powers, and for the support of a broad and diverse coalition of community groups, more than 180 of whom are calling for passage of the Sweet Truth Act. Besides providing this critical information to New Yorkers, the city would, not for the first time, lead the nation and inspire cities, counties, and states across the country to adopt similar measures that help their citizens make healthy choices and prevent and manage diet-related disease.”  

“As corporations continue to develop food options, consumers must be conscious of the ingredients they consume. While many individuals are acquainted with the risks associated with added sugars, they also go without knowing what is in the food they consume when they go out to eat, much of it frozen,” said Chair of the Committee on Consumer and Worker Protection, Council Member Marjorie Velázquez. “We know that chain restaurants use preservatives to maintain the quality of their food, but what about added sugar? We must hold businesses accountable for their product ingredients. If someone has an illness such as diabetes or kidney disease, they must monitor their blood sugar, and added sugars are only an added hazard to their health, especially if they are unaware it exists in their meal.”

“Encouraging greater awareness of the added sugars in the foods that are widely recognized and consumed from our City’s chain restaurants is vital to producing the transparency needed for New York families to make more informed decisions on the foods they buy,” said Council Member Kevin C. Riley. “I am excited to partner with my colleagues to require restaurants to post sugar icons on all items that exceed the FDA recommended daily value. As an advocate for health, wellness and a major champion for a healthier Bronx #not62 campaign, City legislation is required that promotes healthier eating habits and aids New Yorkers in leading longer quality lives. Without the adequate knowledge and clarity in our food systems, we cannot, as a community, address the health crises that are a direct result of poor quality food intake. Partnering on this bill ensures that we are executing a small part for a bigger impact on normalizing a healthier City.”

“The West African immigrant communities we serve have enough challenges without the added burden of diet-related diseases fueled by high amounts of added sugars,” said Sadio Yaya Barry, President of the Association des Senegalais d’Amerique. “We applaud this measure and how it empowers individuals to make informed choices about the amount of added sugars they consume.”

“Food and beverages with lots of added sugars contribute to the deep health inequities that disproportionately impact Black, Brown, and Latinx communities in NYC,” said AjiFanta Marenah, Secretary of the Gambian Youth Organization and Advocacy Manager of Muslim Community Network. “Bravo to Council Majority Leader Powers and colleagues for their leadership in providing New Yorkers with tools to help us live healthier lives, a social injustice issue that isn’t often addressed.”

“South Asians have a higher risk for diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, and when compared with other Asian groups, it is oftentimes due to diets that are high in refined carbohydrates,” said Gourab Das Nayan, Program Manager & Health Educator, India Home Inc. “It’s not enough to just cut down on sugar—we must ensure that people know the harms of consuming foods high in sugar and it must be clearly labeled. This is especially important for our South Asian seniors, many of whom are unaware of the immediate and long term health risks of these substances.”

“Our work at KCSNY has centered on preventing and reducing chronic health problems like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease,” said Sara Kim, Program Director of Public Health & Research Center, Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York, Inc. “We welcome the requirement of excessive sugar warning icons in chain restaurants as a big help in guiding New Yorkers toward healthier decisions. Thanks to Council Member Keith Powers – and the other council members who are co-sponsoring this legislation – for stepping up for public health!”

“I have seen a rise in Type 2* diabetes cases in children and adolescent’s -a trend exacerbated by the pandemic, and our current eating and drinking environment,” said Dr. Ileana Vargas (Pediatric Endocrinologist; Columbia University Medical Center. “Unaddressed, diabetes can lead to lifelong health problems and complications. By trying to consume more nutritious foods many of these problems can be avoided. This bill is extremely important, as it will allow patients like mine to really see how much sugar hides in our foods and drinks and it allows us to decide what we want to put in our bodies.”