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L.A. parks, libraries should offer healthier beverages, councilman says

Los Angeles City Councilman Mitchell Englander is pushing for a measure that would limit sugary drinks for sale at city parks and libraries and require vending machine operators to offer a healthier mix of options.

Fewer sugar-laden sodas and energy drinks would benefit young athletes and students who are frequent users of the city's parks and libraries, Englander told the council's Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee.

To demonstrate his point, he poured out 22 packets of sugar on a hearing table--the same amount of the sweet stuff in a 20-ounce soda, Englander told committee members. After hearing from community health advocates and lobbyists for the soda industry, the committee asked for a report back on how the city might implement a measure, said Matt Myerhoff, an Englander spokesman.

The report will hammer out specifics such as what sugar content would be acceptable in drinks, where limitations would be imposed or whether the city should push for an outright ban on sugary drinks. Such a ban was recently proposed in New York City by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

A report is due back to the council committee in 45 days.

Englander, who represents portions of the western San Fernando Valley, came up with the idea after his  daughter complained that water bottles were always sold out in the vending machines at the park where she had sports practice. There was just one slot for water and the rest were filled with high-sugar drinks, Myerhoff said.

"If that vending machine is there, there is no reason it should be full of sugar-laden drinks when we are facing an epidemic of obesity,'' the spokesman said.

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-- Catherine Saillant

 

 
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