September 17, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 11  

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Can the Coke: TO Board of Health

By Taha Suria
Gazette Writer

The City of Toronto's Board of Health recently recommended to the city's four school boards that they stop selling all caffeinated and other non-nutritious beverages in schools.

A Board of Health report released Monday warned of the adverse effects of consuming non-nutritious beverages such as colas, iced teas and chocolate drinks, said Carolin Wai, a public health nutritionist with the City.

Wai said she supports the report's conclusions, adding she believes healthier options should be made available in schools.

Although the Board of Health unanimously asked the school boards to remove all caffeinated and non-nutritious beverages from schools, it does not have the capability to force the changes and impose a ban on the drinks, Wai said. -The school boards have to voluntarily decide. The Board of Health can only advocate and encourage them to stop selling the drinks,” she added.

The only other way to induce changes in what beverages schools sell is through the provincial government, Wai explained. However there are financial concerns that school boards have with removing the beverages, she said, noting the sale of such beverages generate significant revenue for the schools and thus there is an incentive for school boards to keep selling them.

Natascha Wesch, an instructor of kinesiology at Western, said the consumption of junk foods and drinks like Coke are on the rise and schools should be more responsible in selling them. She added the empty calories which can be found in caffeinated and non-nutritious beverages are similar to those found in alcohol and offer no real health benefits.

According to Melanie Slade, health education volunteer coordinator for Student Health Services, the number of obese youth is definitely on the rise and the consumption of non-nutritious beverages contributes to that trend. -In drinks like Coke there are empty calories, as opposed to juices and milks that offer a great deal more nutrients,” she said.



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