Hamilton moves toward less bottled water, fewer sugary snacks in recreational facilities

FILE - In this March 3, 2010 file photo, a Costco customer pours a Diet Coke drink at Costco in Mountain View, Calif. The fixation on calorie counts that defined dieting for so long is giving way to other considerations, like the promise of more fiber or natural ingredients. The shift is chipping away at the popularity of products like Diet Coke, Lean Cuisine, Special K and Yoplait Light, which became dieting staples primarily by virtue of being calorie-stripped alternatives to people’s favorite foods. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, file)
Healthier food options and less bottled water are in the future for Hamilton arenas and recreation centres. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, file

Get ready for fewer sugary snacks, and more healthy food and beverage choices, within the city’s arenas and recreation centres.

Hamilton’s Board of Health has voted 6-3 in favour of the Healthy Food and Beverage Action Plan.

READ MORE: Healthy food, drink choices coming to Hamilton recreation facilities

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Elizabeth Richardson says it’s about “making the healthy choice, the easy choice,” in response to a 67 per cent obesity rate among adults and a 27 per cent obesity rate among Hamilton children.

The board was also presented with statistics, prepared by the Healthy and Safe Communities Department, showing that more than 80 per cent of menu items sold in recreational facilities have little or no nutritional benefits.

The department also conducted an arena survey in 2017 in which only 12 per cent of respondents were “satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with the availability of healthy options.

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

In opposing the action plan, Ward 8 Coun. Terry Whitehead says he can never subscribe to taking “parents’ ability to educate and make choices on behalf of their children” out of their hands.

The plan, if approved by council next Wednesday, will also significantly reduce the sale of bottled water in city facilities.

A number of delegates appeared before the board on Monday afternoon to support that aspect of the plan, largely for environmental reasons.

READ MORE: Ontario proposes to boost water bottler fee from $3.71 to $500 per million litres taken

A delegation of students from Westdale Secondary School argued that up to 80 per cent of discarded plastic evades the recycling process.

Councillors also heard from Allan Greenleaf Elementary School students who urged them to “help us take action to make our future a better one.”