Over the next two weeks, Next City will unroll short profiles of 77 people, places and ideas that have changed cities this year. Together, they make up our 2012 Disruption Index. Forefront subscribers can download the Index in full as a PDF, complete with beautiful designs and graphics by Danni Sinisi. Readers who make a $75 donation to Next City will have a full-color printed copy of the Index mailed to them.
The war against urban obesity moved to a new battlefield this year, as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg put his significant power behind a proposal to ban the sale of sugary drinks and sodas larger than 16 ounces. The idea perplexed some residents, who argued that Bloomberg was butting into their personal lives and choices. But he stood behind the proposal, saying that the sugar in excessively large drinks is fueling the epidemic of obesity in New York and other urban areas. Bloomberg has equated the move with smoking bans, arguing that the public health benefits far outweigh whatever perceived inconvenience it may cause.
Other cities are paying attention. Washington, D.C. is apparently considering a similar ban on large sugary drinks. But not everyone is convinced that soda is the bad guy. Voters in the California cities of Richmond and El Monte recently shot down proposed taxes on business that sell sodas and sugary drinks. The anti-soda movement isn’t exactly a countrywide game-changer, but its high-profile emergence in New York City has undeniably made regulating sugary drinks an item on the urban agenda this year.
Nate Berg is a writer and journalist covering cities, architecture and urban planning. Nate’s work has been published in a wide variety of publications, including the New York Times, NPR, Wired, Metropolis, Fast Company, Dwell, Architect, the Christian Science Monitor, LA Weekly and many others. He is a former staff writer at The Atlantic Cities and was previously an assistant editor at Planetizen.