Will city hall take on Big Sugar?
ty is buzzing about its mayor’s push to ban the sale of large pops and sugary drinks, a Kamloops councillor is working on a motion of her own to get the Tournament Capital eating better.
Coun. Nelly Dever hasn’t decided what shape her own motion will take, but told KTW she wants it to be focused on “improving the quality of food that is accessible out there.”
In New York, the proposed ban would restrict the size of sugary beverages sold in restaurants, movie theatres and sports arenas to 473 milliletres or less. A typical bottled soda contains 591 milliletres.
The ban would cover sweetened iced tea and energy drinks, but wouldn’t restrict the size of juices, diet soft drinks, alcoholic drinks or dairy-based concoctions such as milkshakes. It also wouldn’t apply in grocery or convenience stores.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said the ban is meant to help counter obesity in the Big Apple.
Dever, who owns Nelly’s Executive Fitness, said she sees the move as a good starting point.
“It’s really nice to see that one of the larger North American cities is trying to take some sort of position,” she said, adding Canadian drink sizes also appear to be expanding rapidly.
Dever is working on a survey of the city’s fast-food restaurants to find out what options exist right now.
She said she has counted more than 300 — but trying to come up with a fast-food bylaw is complicated by the fact some restaurants do offer healthier choices than their dine-in counterparts.
She said the idea is inspired by the decline in health she has seen locally.
“We’re having children come to us who have Type 2 diabetes, which was really unheard of 15 years ago,” she said.
Dever hopes to draft a motion in the next several months, but wants it to be something the public can support that leaves the final choice of what they eat and drink up to them.
“It’s one of those things where you say, ‘Where can you help but not overstep?’” she said. “People can make up their own minds, but maybe with a little bit of direction.”
Other councillors reached by KTW about the New York City plan were lukewarm on the idea of the ban.
Donovan Cavers believes the best way to improve eating is to try to put healthy choices front and centre.
“In the city facilities, there’s now healthy Lean Machine vending machines,” he said.
“Putting them in more prominent locations rather than the straight-up pops is, I think, probably a better way of going about it.”
Arjun Singh said he’d rather see government promote healthy options, rather than penalize people for unhealthy choices.
“I favour carrot more than stick,” he said.
Nancy Bepple called the big-drink prohibition an “interesting idea,” but said a restriction of that sort might be better left up to the province to debate.