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Sugary-Soda Ban Will Cut Kid Obesity, Save Medical Costs, Englander Says

"It's not Big Government trying to take over and control what people are drinking or consuming," the councilman says.

Councilman Mitch Englander isn't out to ban anything resembling a Big Gulp drink like New York's mayor. Nor does he want to social-engineer sugar-loaded sodas out of restaurants.

His choice of beverage was a chilled bottle of water at Tuesday's Corral 54 equestrian picnic at Mason Park, where he told Patch, "It's not like what most people are proposing in other cities."

Instead, he wants to help kids with loose change in their pockets make reasonable drink decisions which will benefit both their health and the cost of medical care in California.

"My motion called for banning of sweetened beverages in vending machines in parks and recreation facilities owned and controlled by the city of Los Angeles," he said. "And I think it's reasonable because we're not looking at doing that at stores. We're not looking at doing that at private enterprise. It's not Big Government trying to take over and control what people are drinking or consuming."

Rather, he said, the city needs to oversee the content of vending machines in the parks and libraries it controls. Libraries currently do not have vending machines, but he said, his motion looks ahead to the day they might be installed.

Earlier Tuesday before the Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee of the City Council to demonstrate how much sugar is in each 20-ounce soda. The committee asked for a report in 45 days on how the city might implement the proposal.

Englander told Patch that many children come to city parks unsupervised. "Their parents drop them off or they take the bus or walk and they have money in their pocket ... to get a drink" from vending machines, he said.

"And unfortunately, most of they time when there is water, it's empty, and we have to control that," he said. "We should at least be able to set the tone and lead by example as elected officials for the facilities we control."

But legislation is required because he sees little interest on the part of the vending machine operators to voluntarily drop sugary beverages. "The vendors make so much money off of it. You've got to do it by policy," Englander said.

In 2002, the Los Angeles Unified School District banned the selling of sodas in all school cafeterias and campus vending machines.

"I've been on the board of the American Diabetes Association for 15 years. And we've seen the changes -- just 10 years ago childhood obesity was about one in every 10 children," he said. "And right now it's about one in every four. In some communities we're seeing one in every three."

"These children go on to have all kinds of problems, not only like sleep apnea but also diabetes -- Type 2 diabetes which is rampant," he said.

"Right now we're looking at about $21 billion in healthcare costs in just the state of California because of diabetes and health-related incidents from obesity," Englander said.

"We're finding the No. 1 cause is sweetened and sugared sodas."

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Charlene Vincent June 20, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Then, wouldn't it make more sense to require the machine to have at least one non-sugary drink, rather than deprive those who want a soda pop? Or, you could just outlaw all the soda pop companies........
Joseph June 20, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Blood sugar level is low, what do I do? Thank you First Lady, would you like to raise my kid for me?
Chris June 20, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Soda does not cause obesity in children, bad parenting does. Quit targeting the object. Taking away the soda machine will not stop anyone from having soda or being irresponsible with their choices. Child can't get soda from the machine, well he'll just get it from the corner store - and probably cheaper too.
Chad Fenwick June 20, 2012 at 05:25 PM
We are missing the real reason for the obesity epidemic, lack of physical activity. The ban of sodas in LAUSD did not slow the obesity rate, it continued to rise. It was not until we started to provide professional development and monitoring of the physical education programs that the obesity rate stopped rising and has even dropped slightly. There needs to be a comprehensive approach, with opportunities to be physically active, quality physical education to teach the students the skills, knowledge, attitudes and behaviors to move the rest of their lives. It is also extremely important to protect the open space for children and adults to be active.
trojan2002 June 20, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Mitch... I appreciate you want to help kids. But sometime doing anything is not doing the best thing. Budget cuts have left kids without physical education, that includes physical activity and health classes! This is an age of video games, internet etc. Kids are playing less outside. The ten year period you indicate is the same period where there was an increase in the income gap. Inflation outpaced wage growth. Contrary to the great myth in the head of guy making $180K now, $140K as chief of staff, living in a $800K house, there are a lot more lower income people with kids than you think. They can't afford to eat healthy. Maybe because the sales tax, the most unfair of all taxes, takes more out of their pay than yours. Your proposal is flawed. NY has NOT gotten any healthier under Bloomberg. Your proposal will do nothing either. Just another government elitist with no real world understanding trying to mandate standards on people.
Jo June 20, 2012 at 07:38 PM
LA City will lose revenue when folks decide to buy from stores if they can't get the drink they prefer at the park or library. Since LA City needs revenue why not fine those home owners and business owners who allow huge weeds and trash to along all the parkways in our town??? There's a muni code that says owners are responsible to remove weeds and trash and overgrown vegetation and yet our town look disgraceful because the City does not enforce the Muni Code...since LA needs money, Mitch Englander should concentrate his efforts on this huge problem that is wrecking our quality of life rather than deal with this little piddly soda issue. I know about the parkways because Northridge Clean Sweep volunteers, which I organize, have been cleaning these disgraceful parkways every Thursday and some Saturdays for two years now. What type of town relies on its taxpayers to clean public easement sidewalks and parkways???
Skraeling June 20, 2012 at 07:58 PM
At some point, common sense, so obviously lacking in our professional "victim" class that sees all evil coming from Washington (via the Obama's) has to step in. Too much sugar will kill you slowly, which is fine with me, but why should the rest of us have to pay for your gluttonous and stupidly self destructing lifestyles?
Barry Brenner June 20, 2012 at 08:08 PM
The American people know what the dietary solutions are for obesity and diabetes. It's not the people who should be monitored, but corporate America who needs to offer healthier choices in a can. They can be appealing, filled with less sugar, and with the right amount of advertising can be desired by children and adults alike. Then people can make the choice and not the government. Tax the bad products like we tax cigarettes and then the health costs of bad decisions can be paid for by the people who use them habitually.
Leigh Datzker June 20, 2012 at 08:24 PM
"The city needs to oversee the content of vending machines." Damn, I thought the City needed to oversee maintaining the city's infrastructure, preserving essential city services, and repairing the streets and bridges throughout its domain. Mr. Englander and his erstwhile staff should be interested in business and job creation in CD 12. I don't think anyone looks at officials in city government as role models. Councilman Englander simply does not recognize priorities in the City of Los Angeles, hence his sugar and pony show yesterday. If Mitch is so concerned about nutrition, then he should resign, and obtain college degrees leading up to becoming a registered dietician. CSUN has a wonderful food science program he can pursue, although I have seen vending machines on campus that dispense those nefarious sugary drinks. One would think a councilman has more pressing issues to deal with as expressed in the several negative comments in response to his proposed ban. Leadership is a trait that cannot be feigned.
Rudy Torres June 20, 2012 at 09:30 PM
What do vending machines have to do with bad parenting and how is reducing revenue going to end bad parenting? The source of this epidemic is bad parenting.
Thomas Jefferson VII June 20, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Mitch I think we need to ban coffee @ City hal I hear caffine is bad for you & all those aids? What you have about 40 assistants, you would be much healthier doing your own legwork. Why do we elect such CLOWNS.....glad to see the City's traffic, economic, pollution, illegal alien, street crime, graffitti, Colesium corruption, drive bys & gangs, jail overcrowding, homeless issueS have all been solved to allow this nannyist proposal from a do nothing counselmemebr (to be fair, the whole bunch of them are worthless...) Grab your ankles & reach for a TAB its good for you "Mitch I know best Englander"
Brian Aherne June 21, 2012 at 04:39 AM
Nanny Englander. He does these things because he can. Shame.
Bulldog1988 June 21, 2012 at 03:39 PM
I love soda. I love the taste, the caffeine, the carbonation. It's great with a burger! But, even I know that it should not be so readily available to kids (or adults for that matter). Sodas are not going to suddenly vanish from the earth (although every opponent of the policy naively speaks like it will). All the policy proposes is that the City not make a profit off a product that does no good (notice I didn't say an "inherently evil" product). No one thinks soda should be illegal. Kids should just have a bit more limited access to this yummy, addicting, liquid candy.. If you think this policy is nanny government, then you obviously have no clue what it's like to live everyday of your life in a food desert.. Think about the little kids that don't have a ice cube's chance in hell to find a healthy meal/snack/beverage/whatever in their community.
Gabe Flores June 21, 2012 at 07:11 PM
As a father of four I'm glad someone is finally addressing food landscape in public places. We don't all live next to Trader Joe's or Whole Foods, I can't always monitor what my children consume when they are at the park or library. Great Job Englander, I'm glad someone is thinking about making healthy choices available. We don't all live on the West Side, some of us live in food deserts and cannot readily access fresh fruits and vegetables. This is why local policy is essential in addressing the overabundance of sugary drinks--vending companies are driven by profit margin, certainly not the health of my four children.
Moni Sanchez June 21, 2012 at 07:34 PM
GREAT JOB Englander, glad to see someone is doing something to address this issue. The soda industry will stop at nothing to ensure lifelong brand loyalty, who cares that 10 and 11 year olds are now being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes because they in fact consume too much soda. Nanny Government.....if this is what it will take to ensure inner city kids have healthier choices....Then I say, BRING IT!!!!!
becampos1 June 21, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Growing up as an overweight teenager was one of the most impactful circumstances of my life. By the age of 17, I weighed 210 pounds. I consumed sodas for breakfast lunch and dinner. I spent most of my time at the library and parks. 85lbs later I had to learn the hard way the harmful effects of sugary drinks. As a college student I applaud Los Angeles Council Member Mitchell Englander’s motion to remove sodas from Los Angeles parks, libraries and recreation facilities. This is a bold step and it is much needed. I don’t want the future children to suffer health problems like I did.
Brian Aherne June 21, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Gabe- Yours is a sad commentary. I am almost 70 yeas old, and we had sugary drinks even when I was a kid.. There were no diet drinks, but every gas station had a soda vending machine of some sort. My single mother managed to control my consumption. It was not the job of the city (Los Angeles), the schools, the State, and most certainly not the Federal government. I do admit that the library had no vending machines, but we were not allowed to eat or drink there anyway. There was a gas station across the street from the library, but MY MOTHER said I could not go there. Gee whiz, what an idea, actual personal and family responsibility. By the way,
Ronald Weathers June 21, 2012 at 09:03 PM
I agree-there needs to be an overall of the Health system where more emphasis is put on quality health education and physical activity, Advocacy is OK but there's needs to be more community interventions to instill the message with people within every socio-economical sphere. I would like to see the fitness professionals become more prominent within Public Health. I work in Public Health and I see there is a great need for Public Health adminstrators and professionals to "walk the talk".
Scott Rubel June 21, 2012 at 09:07 PM
This doesn't sit right to me, either. It doesn't feel good, but since people want to be asses, then some regulation helps those of us who don't, yet who are affected by asses nonetheless. People who are over 18 should be able to decide what they want to ingest. We have laws against abusing children, though. Why do people think that raising a child to be a diabetic is not abuse? It's not an individual freedom we must "defend" at the levels of disease we are living with. These sugar and grain based diseases do affect everyone, even people who think. If you promise never to go to a clinic with your diabetic emergencies, you can have all the freedom you want. If you promise not to socialize your health care by being on my insurance plan and raising my rates by making incredibly dumb-ass food choices, be my guest. Otherwise, it is not a right to abuse your children by making them sickly, dumpy slobs and I think it's appropriate for us to at least not sell poisons in public facilities.
mar June 21, 2012 at 09:12 PM
I agree with his idea. Just make good clean water available. Easy, free, and the healthiest drink.
Mario Loera, Jr. June 21, 2012 at 09:34 PM
It simply comes down to this: Help make the healthy choice the easy choice. Just as easy as it is now for a child to buy a soda from a vending machine. The average child between 4 & 8 years old consumes 21 teaspoons of added sugar a day. Wonder what that statistic is like for children through adolescence. Any reasonable parent wouldn't give a child sugary substances every time they asked for it, what about when parents aren't around but the easy vending machine is? Also, how about those sky rocketing rates of diabetes, recently? Simply help make the healthy choice as easy as the soda choice currently is by eliminating the facility to obtain these sugary substances from public areas kids often frequent without their parents' supervision. That's it. No evil, scary, tentacles "big government" is being asked for, just common sense. Thank you.
Breanna Nicole June 22, 2012 at 12:32 AM
This is an amazing step in the right direction. Now Los Angeles can join the other 22 California cities and over 7 California counties, including the County of Los Angeles, that have already adopted similar principles around eliminating unhealthy beverage choices on city-owned property. Cities like Philadephia, New York, Boston and Chicago already have much more aggressive policies towards this initiative. I'm happy to see that LA is finally coming on board with the rest of the Country's big cities in their efforts to lead by example and promote healthy lifestyles. There is a lot more work that needs to be done to truly improve the food resource environment for children and families in LA, but this is a great foundation. I hope it goes all the way and I hope it sends the message to children, parents and families that the city actually practices what it preaches. Amazing work!
Brian Aherne June 22, 2012 at 03:50 AM
Yes Breanna, we all need to be coerced or forced to ride the bandwagon. What would we do without more government control over our lives. My parents guided me, as I did for my children, and they are doing for theirs. Every generation until the most recent few made errors, but now, since so many parents are spineless, they must have government assistance and a safe rubber room for their brood. Council Person Englander is a part of the problem; legistation and regulation is not a part of the solution.
Bulldog1988 June 22, 2012 at 10:27 PM
This is not an elitist proposal. This proposal forces the vending industry to provide healthier drink options for the low-income kids you just mentioned. Educate yourself. The studies on this subject make it overwhelming clear that this is the right thing to do...
Brian Aherne June 23, 2012 at 04:30 AM
mar- Water! Free? Oh, maybe you mean drinking fountains. You need to get to the schools. Many, many kids will not drink from the fountains because their parents (yes, their parents) tell them it is dangerous. But our council person thinks the government needs to control "sugary" drinks. Don't worry, we will be taxed millions so a relative of some elected official or top level bureaucrat can be give a grant to study what constitutes "sugary."
Elena Bazini June 25, 2012 at 05:24 PM
I think it would be great to have sodas and juices banned from schools and parks vending machines and instead, have water and fruit.
trojan2002 June 29, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Because Jack this is the MOTHER F'N UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. LAND OF THE FREE! FREE. Free means I can do what I want without you and the government telling me what to do. Of course that was long before the "socialist" movement kicked in demanding a nanny state. Telling me where I can smoke, what I can eat, what I can wear, how I should talk. Jack people like you ARE THE IDIOTS. You give the government 1 inch they come back for more. That's why our country is fucked up now. The govt is not accountable at any level. Mr. Englander is a corrupt politician not some do-gooder. Bus signs, OPGs, car dealers, AEG... he is a bitch boy for special interest groups and CD12ers are too blind (or stupid) to see it.

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