Councilman Wants to Ban Soda Vendors From City Parks: What Do You Think?

Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch Englander wants to ban sodas from city parks. Is that fair?

Citing the city's need to address childhood obesity, Councilman Mitch Englander (CD12) has proposed a motion to the Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee that would disallow the placement of soda vending machines in public parks and libraries, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. 

Englander's motion states:

As a City, we need to lead by example by making soda unavailable in our recreation and library facilities, Children cannot be blamed for poor nutritional choices, but as adults, we must limit those choices in City facilities known for children and teenage recreation. Therefore, we should ban soda in City Library and Park vending machines. The elimination of sodas in Department of Recreation and Parks (RAP) vending machines will not put an end to childhood obesity, but it is a small step in educating the public about healthier food and beverage choices.

In stating his case for the elimination of soda vending machines, Englander noted that the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has banned the sale of sugary sodas on their property since 2002.

"The RAP oversees hundreds of vending machines located on City-owned land in or around RAP facilities," Englander wrote in the motion. "Although most of these machines are maintained by private contractors, RAP as the facility operators should have the authority to disallow the selling of sodas in these machines."

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 17-percent of America's children were obese in 2009-2010. The CDC also notes that "empty calories from added sugars and solid fats contribute to 40% of daily calories for children and adolescents aged 2–18 years, affecting the overall quality of their diets. Approximately half of these empty calories come from six sources: soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza, and whole milk."

The Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee continued Englander's motion for 45 days on Tuesday, pending a report from the city's Chief Legislative Analyst.


Daniel June 21, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Nutritionists are probably better versed on nutrition than an MD who only takes 1-3 nutrition classes. My doctor told me that!
David Fonseca June 22, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Anne and Margarito--respectfully--here's the point I think you're glossing over. The government is not banning soda. They are prohibiting the sale of it on property they own/manage. Isn't that a huge difference? Shawn has made a valid point: this may hurt the city because it will decrease revenues. (Though I wonder how much the city really brings in through soda contracts--worth investigating!) Others have pointed out that this is a waste of the government's time. That's another valid point. However, In my opinion, making the rhetorical leap from the government prohibiting the sale of something on their property to "closing down the many "taco" spots around the area" is not a sound move.
Margarito Martinez June 22, 2012 at 10:21 PM
I understand that the government is not banning sodas, only sales of it on "THEIR" property. The truth is public parks belong to everybody, soft drink consumers or not. All of US. I still disagree with the approach and especially the rational. It's over reaching by the City. The Northeast Sun just had a story about the role of certain ethnic foods contributing to diabetes and obesity. So, why not bring up a retorical crack down on fatty Mexican foods? The Homeboy Industries cafe in City Hall, for instance. I just feel this is wrong headed and a waste of time and resources by elected officials. It's silly.
David Fonseca June 22, 2012 at 10:47 PM
That makes more sense to me, though I'm not sure how much time or resources are going to be devoted to ending contracts with soda vendors. I don't have a strong stance on this personally. I drink at most one soda per month, but I don't begrudge anyone who enjoys it. (Orange juice is nearly as sugary, by the way, though it is packed with fiber and vitamins.) Englander's move is ultimately a symbolic one--even a city as large as L.A. is unlikely to seriously curb soda consumption by prohibiting its sale at its parks and libraries. They're definitely not stopping anyone from drinking soda, they're just declining to further promote it. I suppose that is a waste of time, but not a particularly egregious one.
LeeAnn June 25, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Councilman Englander’s proposed soda ban is not a form of nutrition education. Restricting the sale of sodas at public parks and libraries does nothing to teach kids in Los Angeles about healthy eating. As a registered dietitian, I counsel families with overweight children and talk to my clients, including companies like Coca-Cola about the importance of a balanced diet, portion control and physical activity to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. There are many ways the government can help kids be healthier and lose weight, but banning one food or drink is not the solution.


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