NYC aims to lead in fight against sugar with new restaurant-menu restrictions

NEW YORK — From higher rates of obesity to heart disease, sugar can cause a slew of problems, and now New York City is looking to be the first in the nation to combat the issue by offering consumers information directly on restaurant menus.

NYC first took aim at trans fats, banned for 12 years now. Then calorie counts came to menus, and today, salty foods get a warning label in all five boroughs. Sugar seems to be next.

On Wednesday, City Council Mark Levine proposed a citywide law that aims to call out sugar on chain restaurant menus by labelling anything that has more than 12 grams.

A "shockingly high number" of foods have unhealthy amounts of sugar, according to Levine.

"Most people have no idea the huge amount of sugar fast-food restaurants add to all kinds of food. From oatmeal to baked beans to salads. We need clear menu labeling to empower New Yorkers to take control of their diet and fight rising rates of obesity and diabetes," Levine tweeted.

About 78 percent of women and 67 percent of men consume more sugar than is recommended each day, according to the American Heart Association. Recommended daily amounts include 36 grams of added-sugar per day and only 25 grams for women.

When consumers are given sugar content, they will make wiser choices, according to health advocates who say the end result will be fewer people with high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and other issues linked to high-sugar intake.

Under the new proposed law, restaurants that don't comply will face financial penalties, according to Levine.

Tiffany Cumberbatch of Canarsie tells PIX11 she agrees with the approach.

"Too much sugar is bad. We know that," Cumberbatch said.