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Outlawing Sugary Drinks

Lynnette Thomas

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Thomas M. Menino, Boston’s long time mayor released an executive order to eliminate sugar-loaded drinks from all city property in an effort to control the rising obesity epidemic. The battle is over sugary drinks, which is believed to be the major source of obesity in Western nations.

Six months were given to City departments to remove the sugar-loaded drinks in vending machines, cafeterias, concession stands and during city-run meetings. The Boston Public Health Commission is putting labels on the drinks, besides displaying posters ‘Stop Rethink Your Drink. Go On Green. ’

‘Red’ drinks include non-diet sodas, sweetened ice teas, and sports drinks. ‘Yellow’ beverages are diet sodas, low calorie sports drinks and 100% fruit juice. ‘Green’ drinks are bottled water, low fat milk or unsweetened soy milk.

Cities such as Los Angeles County, New York City San Francisco and San Antonio have also set standards to reduce, or make illegal, the delivery or sale of unhealthy food.

In Canada beverage companies now have to clearly show the calorie count on the front of drink containers. Numerous Canadian schools have implemented a ban on soda pop and sweets.

The removal of soda and unhealthy snacks from vending machines by Boston Public Schools in 2008, is now believed by many, to be an effective way of limiting this type of food. Subsequent data shows that the overall consumption of sugary drinks has decreased significantly.

Sugar-loaded drinks and soda accounts for up to 10 percent of the total calories intake in the American diet and are known to be major contributors to the current obesity epidemic. Many Boston residents are considered overweight, or obese, according to recent reports, showing 63% of black adults, 51% of Latino adults and 49% of white adults are in the danger zone. Figures that are reflected in many other world-wide communities.

It is now believed that one in every two Canadians is overweight and one in every four is obese. It was estimated back in 2001that Canadians were drinking 96 litres of soft drinks, per person, per year. This consumption has now reduced to an average 72 litres per person, over the last decade.

"Economists estimate that medical costs for an obese patient are about 42 percent higher per year than for a patient with a healthy weight, " Dr. Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, in the city's press release, said.

Canadians alone are believed to be paying the obesity cost of $30 billion annually in health-care costs, along with lost productivity. These statistics are reflected all over the Western world.


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