National Geographic News
Woman drinking from fountain containing radium.

A woman sips an irradiated fountain beverage in Budapest.

Photograph by Rudolf Balogh

Johnna Rizzo

National Geographic News

Published March 26, 2013

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants all sugared drinks sold in Gotham to be 16 ounces (0.5 liters) or less. To that end, he's proposed a citywide Portion Cap Rule. Last week, however, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling ruled that a city's leaders don't get that kind of nutritional say so.

Tingling called the rule "capricious," since it includes, for example, delis and bodegas but not grocery stores and 7-Elevens. Coffee shops—where people are largely left to sweeten on their own—are left out altogether.

"[The Portion Cap Rule] applies to some but not all food establishments in the City," Tingling wrote. "It excludes other beverages that have significantly higher concentrations of sugar sweeteners and/or calories on suspect grounds." The judge also cited loopholes "including but not limited to limitations on re-fills."

Bloomberg considers the Portion Cap Rule a decisive salvo in the war on obesity and plans to appeal.

Historically speaking, though, sugar isn't the only beverage ingredient of questionable health value.

In this 1937 photo by Rudolf Balogh, a woman in Budapest, Hungary, sips at the Juventis Fountain at Rudas Baths.

"The water is said to contain Radium," read the photographer's notes on the back of the photo. "One cent per drink or per flask to take away. Illuminated at night."

Today the thermal baths are still open and advertise "radio-active hot spring water with calcium-magnesium-hydrogen-carbonate also containing sodium and sulfate and with a significant content of fluoride ions." Taking the waters—by cup or by soak—is a suggested therapy for degenerative joint diseases, arthritis, herniated discs, and neuralgia.

Marie Curie, who had successfully isolated radium in 1910 (after working on the project since before the turn of the century), died just three years before this photo was taken of aplastic anemia—a result of prolonged exposure to radiation.

0 comments

Share

Latest From Nat Geo

  • Photos: Relics of the Cold War

    Photos: Relics of the Cold War

    A photographer explores the traces of a standoff that divided Europe for four decades.

     

     

  • Delicate but Deadly Jellyfish

    Delicate but Deadly Jellyfish

    Some jellyfish are known to migrate hundreds of feet in pursuit of prey. See some of our favorite jellyfish pictures in honor of Jellyfish Day.

See more photo galleries »

Featured Article

  • The Push to Get More Women Into Science

    The Push to Get More Women Into Science

    The number of women in scientific research continues to lag behind the number of men, even though women make up half the nation's workforce. The question is, What difference does it make?

The Future of Food Series

  • Download: Free iPad App

    Download: Free iPad App

    We've made our magazine's best stories about the future of food available in a free iPad app.

  • Why Food Matters

    Why Food Matters

    How do we feed nine billion people by 2050, and how do we do so sustainably?

See more food news, photos, and videos »