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Hamilton’s board of health urged to act on sugar crisis

Hamilton's Board of Health has been asked reduce the availability of sugary drinks, especially to young people.
Hamilton's Board of Health has been asked reduce the availability of sugary drinks, especially to young people. AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Hamilton politicians are being urged to join the battle against a public health crisis.

Representatives from McMaster University and the Heart & Stroke Foundation have gone before the city’s Board of Health, asking it to reduce the availability of sugary drinks, especially to young people.

Joe Belfontaine, the foundation’s executive director for Ontario, said that could include capping the size of drinking cups sold in municipal facilities, requiring water or milk as the default option on kids’ meals and controlling the number and contents of vending machines.

READ MORE: Canadian kids bombarded with more than 25M junk food and drink ads online every year

Belfontaine stressed that the healthy choice is currently the difficult choice, because of a lack of healthy options.

City councillors have received the request, with many noting that the issue is a federal and provincial responsibility.

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The Heart & Stroke Foundation is one of the organizations that commissioned a study, released last week, suggesting a 20 per cent tax on manufacturers could save 13,000 lives.

READ MORE: A tax on sugary drinks would save 13,000 lives and raise $43B, Canadian study suggests

Researchers believe the lower consumption resulting from higher prices would address rising rates of diabetes, heart disease and obesity.