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DES PLAINES, IL - JANUARY 6: A snack vending machine is shown at a health facility January 6, 2004 in Des Plaines, Illinois. The American Academy of Pediatrics this week called on schools to restrict students' access to soft drinks, a significant cause, they say, of juvenile obesity. A growing number of communities are starting to question exclusive contracts between schools and vendors, even though the revenue pulled in through sales helps with stretched school budgets. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
One District council member wants to make cuts - to city employees' waistlines.
Vending machines, watch out.
Mary Cheh is introducing a new "Workplace Wellness" bill, a program that would require the mayor to set up a fitness plan for all city workers. Wellness coordinators would be established for the city's offices.
The proposed law would also put nutritional restrictions on the types of snacks offered in the 4,000 vending machines currently in city and federal facilities. That means city employees might have to go off-site to get their midday Snickers fix.
"A well-structured workplace-wellness program can reduce health costs, improve morale and productivity, and improve employee recruitment and retention," Cheh said in a press release. "As we fight a citywide obesity epidemic, the District government can be a leader in improving the health of our workforce."
According to a D.C. Department of Health report issued last year, 25 percent of women and 19 percent of men in the city are obese. The CDC says across that the current obesity rate in children, 17 percent, is triple that of the previous generation.
In the battle against the bulge, Mary Cheh is not alone. Cities around the country have been tackling growing midsections with local regulations. In San Francisco, the Happy Meal has been banished for its high-calorie count. In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has mandated that restaurants and food vendors need to post the calorie count on all the food they sell.
The Army, in an effort to tighten the belts of new recruits, has begun removing high-fat snack vending machines from its basic training facilities. The Army Times reports that juice and apples are replacing Coke and Twinkies at some bases.
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