By Elise Viebeck - 06/06/12 04:12 PM EDT
First lady Michelle Obama walked a fine line on the issue Tuesday after a report alleged that she offered "some kind words" for efforts like Bloomberg's in an interview.
A statement from Obama's office later clarified that she "wasn't weighing in on this specific policy debate one way or the other."
"She was trying to make the point that every community is different and every solution is different and that she applauds local leaders … who are taking this issue seriously and working towards solving this problem," said Kristina Schake, Obama’s communications director.
"But this is not something the administration is pursuing at a federal level and not something the First Lady is specifically endorsing or condemning," Schake added.
The "Soda Summit" will take place in Washington, D.C., on June 7-8 and feature talks by Dr. Thomas Farley, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.).
It is sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) with support from other health groups.
CSPI has praised the proposed New York ban, calling sugary drinks "liquid candy" in a release with details about the D.C. event.
"Mayor Michael Bloomberg's pioneering proposal … is the boldest effort yet to prevent obesity, which is not only painful for millions of Americans but is costing our nation upwards of $150 billion in higher health costs annually," the group's executive director Michael F. Jacobson said in a May 31 statement.
The beverage lobby, meanwhile, points out that sugary drinks are a limited part of most people's diets.
“Certainly, there are some lawmakers who would unjustifiably assign most of the blame for the obesity rate to soft drinks,” Chris Gindlesperger, director of public affairs at the American Beverage Association, recently told The Hill.
The group spent nearly $13 million lobbying against a proposed soda tax in New York state in 2010 — one of the highest totals ever for a single group in a single year, according to the New York Public Interest Research Group.
—Updated at 2:40 p.m.