The fight between food purveyors and health advocates over junk food is getting intense. From the successful campaign against trans fats to San Francisco's ban on toys in McDonald's Happy Meals to first lady Michelle Obama's campaign against childhood obesity, it's clear that makers of so-called junk foods face a widening public relations battle.
In the latest round, the food industry notched a big win. Within hours of New York City's ban on big sugary drinks going into effect March 11, a New York State Supreme Court justice struck it down. The judge blasted the city for regulatory overreach, because it didn't consult the city council. He also called the rule "arbitrary and capricious," because it didn't apply to all establishments in the city or all high-calorie sweetened drinks.
More battles lie ahead. After New York proposed controversial soda regulations last year, the mayor of Cambridge, Mass., weighed in on the desirability of doing the same in her city.
(Read More: NYC Sugary Drink Ban: No More Big Gulps?)
"Once you open the door a crack for these sorts of things, they don't go away," says Ruth MacDonald, chair of the food science and human nutrition department at Iowa State University in Ames. "There probably will be more of these things."
Some advocates liken the fight between food purveyors and health advocates to what happened decades ago with the major cigarette companies. Advocates finally got huge restrictions on smoking and cigarette sales despite furious industry lobbying. But there's one crucial difference: Food is a lot more complicated than tobacco. With sugar and fat so prevalent in food, "it gets just a little messy when you pinpoint which items you're not going to sell," says Dr. MacDonald.