On Facebook Town Clr. Kim has opened up a can of carbonated gummy worms in his attempts to firm up his position on whether the Town of Aurora should consider banning sugar from vending machines:
Seeing sugary drinks in athletic/recreation centers may indeed seem paradoxical.
So what? Life is full of paradoxes.
Comunity centers serve as community hubs and are not exclusive to athletic programming. Nor are they filled with a captive audience of children Monday to Friday.
If vending machines that sell pop and juice alongside water creates a paradox than surely the observation rings true when shifting one’s gaze to the snack bar that serves muffins, chocolate bars, slushies, gum and candies.
Should coffee sales also be banned at these snack bars because serving coffee with sugar is paradoxical?
Does the recent Healthy Community Challenge at the “sugar” bush dispensing sryupy treats to hapless children seem paradoxical?
The Town is poised to hold its annual Easter egg hunt. Is it paradoxical that sweets be in proximity of innocent children at this municipal event? Or should the maple syrup on the pancakes also be banned from those under 18?
Is it paradoxical that hot chocolate is served at a slate of Town of Aurora winter events including Santa Under the Stars Parade, Tree lighting, Family First Night, and Arctic adventure?
Is it paradoxical that sugary candy canes be handed out to unsuspecting kids at the Town’s tree lighting event?
Is it paradoxical that vendors at the Aurora Farmers Market sell al forms of cookies, fudge, candies, sweets, lemonade to children every weekend that are playing at Town Park?
Of course it is.
Would you rather live in a town full of paradoxes or puritans that eagerly race towards the path a) Discover something is bad b) Ban or regulate it c) Problem solved.
A path we have seen that had resulted in #winning the War on Drugs.
Back in the day Aurora was a wet town. A few people know that we had a brewery, and whiskey flowed from kegs. Then came the Temprance movement, whose ironic mark is left on one of Aurora’s street names. The following excerpt is from James Johnston’s 1972 book Aurora, Its Early Beginnings:
Last time I checked Sugar is not a controlled substance.
I’m fine when blowhards get up on soap boxes and cry out that “Governments have a responsibility to help people make the right and healthy choices.” but those same blowhards do not get to define that responsibility in such narrow terms.
Help people make the right and healthy choices. Yes.
Remove the ability to make the right and healthy choices through outright bans. No.
Only a lazy and opportunistic government chooses to dictate instead of educating their populace.
Although the ones quick to jump on the ban bandwagon are only now able to scrape together some empirical data its not as though there isn’t any to pull from.
Dr. Sharma, Professor of Medicine & Chair in Obesity Research and Management at the Univerity of Alberta,, also the Clinical Co-Chair of the Alberta Health Services Obesity Program penned a piece back in 2012 on why banning sugar will not solve obesity.
There is a growing understanding in public health circles that a more nuanced approach to the problems caused by excess sugar consumption – involving addressing inequality, regulatory changes, using ‘nudge’ interventions to change behavior in less punitive ways, and so on – is needed.
Also last year Will Quince the MP for Colchester wrote a piece for the Spectator outlining 10 reasons why a sugar tax is a bad idea, ending with fact that similar taxes have failed in France, Demark and the US.
Something that I touched on in a november post citing CTV, National Post, Globe & Mail and then again with the case study of New York, University of Chicago and lastly, closer to home Toronto.
“Toronto Public Health reviewed the evidence and found no compelling reason to deviate from the current precautionary public health approach that encourages limits in (caffeinated energy drink) consumption,” rather than outright bans.
Which now begs the question, is the York Region Board of health weighing in on the proposed ban here in Aurora, if not, why not?
Right now council doesn’t know what they don’t know. Is there an epidemic problem facing aurorans tied directly to the availability of sugar at town facilities?
So that they had the empirical data to inform their decisions the Middlesex-London Health Unit conducted a Beverage Vending Review for the City of London this past January.
A research team was tasked to conduct a survey to seek input from facility users and City of London residents. The survey results indicate that the majority (82.5%) of facility users are bringing beverages from home into city-run facilities: water in a refillable bottle (75%); coffee and/or tea (58%); water in a single-use bottle (23%); and sports drinks (21%).
Fact – less than 20% of users are not without a beverage they brought from home.
The survey results highlight that facility users (48.3% agreed/strongly agreed) were in favor of the removal of pop and soft drinks.
Fact – Less than 50% support the ban.
Further, the results highlight that the majority of facility users (60.8%) support the sale of single-use bottled water in beverage vending machines, because water is a healthy drink and should be made available as a choice (67%) and in the event that facility users forget their own water or are unaware of the water stations (75%) within city-run facilities.
Fact – bottled water is a desired choice.
I suspect that these findings were not what was expected on the onset to the survey.
Before Aurora gets engaged in some paradoxical war on sugar it cannot win it needs to do its due diligence and understand exactly what they are banning and why.