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Boston -- Mayor Thomas M. Menino yesterday said he is expanding his ban on sugar-sweetened drinks in schools to include all city properties and functions, a sweeping restriction that prohibits calorie-laden soft drinks, juices with added sugar and sports drinks like Gatorade from being offered in vending machines, concession stands and at city-run meetings, programs and events, according to The Boston Globe.
Jim Hardy, who runs Station 10 Café at police headquarters, told the Globe, "It's going to be bad for morale around here," referring to the officers who get daily doses of soda, fruit juices and sugary iced tea along with their sandwiches.
The mayor, who has battled his own weight issues, said that too many Bostonians are overweight or obese and that he wants to make healthy choices easy for them. Ironically, he'll do that by taking away their freedom to choose what they want to drink.
"I haven't had a glass of soda in two years," Menino said during a press conference at City Hall announcing the measure, according to the Globe.
The Boston paper points out that the move follows other anti-obesity initiatives across the country, including the fight against childhood obesity by Michelle Obama at the White House, as communities grapple with a problem deemed a national epidemic.
A hospital in Dorchester followed Menino's lead by banning sweetened beverages on hospital grounds and the executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission said the new city policy will curb health care costs and boost worker productivity.
In efforts to promote healthier eating, Boston has pushed for farmers markets selling fresh fruits and vegetables, backyard gardens and neighborhood walking groups, according to the Globe.
The city banned junk food and soft drinks from vending machines at Boston public schools in 2004.
According to the report, the mayor's executive order sets so-called science-based, color-coded standards for what is considered a healthy beverage and what can be sold or served on city property. City buildings and departments have six months to phase out the sale of beverages coded red: those loaded with sugar, such as nondiet sodas, presweetened iced teas, refrigerated coffee drinks, energy and sports drinks, and juices with added sugar. The promotion of red beverages on banners, panels and vending machines will be banned.
The new policy allows for the sale of yellow beverages such as diet sodas, diet iced teas, 100-percent juices, low-calorie sports drinks, low-sugar sweetened beverages, sweetened soy milk and flavored sweetened milk. Green beverages, such as bottled water, flavored and unflavored seltzer water, low-fat milk and unsweetened soymilk will also be allowed, according to Globe.
At police headquarters, Hardy told the paper the new plan could cut 20 percent of his business if officers and civilian employees begin bringing in their own sodas and eventually sandwiches, instead of buying them from him. He added that complaints were coming in from those who love their sodas and do not like being told what to do or to drink.
"The city banned saturated fat two years ago, and they can do without," Hardy said of the officers. "But I don’t think they can do without their" Coca-Colas, according to the report.