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."