BELL GARDENS, CA -- City officials here have passed a vending policy for city-owned youth recreation centers and parks that bans regular and diet sodas and other sugary drinks, including sports drinks and energy drinks.
The new vending machine standard for Bell Gardens mirrors Los Angeles's Montebello Unified School District's policy that sets allowable limits for calories, fat and salt in products available for purchase.
Bell Gardens is the sixth city in Los Angeles County to pass a healthy vending policy under the LA County Department of Public Health's RENEW (Renew Environments for Nutrition, Exercise and Wellness) initiative. The program seeks to improve nutrition, increase physical activity and reduce obesity in the county.
Last year, Bell Gardens joined the Healthy Eating Active Living Cities Campaign (HEAL), a statewide campaign led by the California Center for Public Health Advocacy that supports city policies to reduce local obesity and physical inactivity rates.
One in four California youth between the ages of nine and 16 is considered to be obese, according to officials, who cite a 29% prevalence of childhood obesity in the city of Bell Gardens.
Bell Gardens recreation and community services director Pamela Wasserman said the vending policy will help kids and parents establish healthy eating patterns.