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Emanuel shouldn’t endorse sugary beverages

Mayor Rahm Emanuel with Steve Cahillane president Coca-Cola's refreshments divisitalks about “wellness challenge” Monday.  |  Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, with Steve Cahillane, president of Coca-Cola's refreshments division, talks about a “wellness challenge” Monday. | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 12, 2012 11:35AM

Mayor, don’t endorse sugary beverages

Like millions of Americans, I was overweight/obese for a large part of my life. As a recent graduate from Loyola Stritch School of Medicine, I know many Chicagoans struggle with obesity and related diseases like diabetes, stroke and hypertension.

Losing weight can be challenging in today’s environment, which promotes high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods and beverages.

Mayor Emanuel’s partnership with the beverage industry presents an obvious conflict of interest.

As a doctor and Health Equity Fellow for the American Medical Student Association, I am familiar with the dangers of conflict of interest and see this as bad precedent.

Just as we wouldn’t accept financial incentives from the tobacco industry in exchange for fewer regulations, we shouldn’t jeopardize our long-term health for short-term incentives.

Although $5 million seems like a lot, it is only a drop in the bucket compared with the billions spent on sugary beverage advertising each year.

It’s hard enough to promote healthy eating without the mayor’s endorsement of the beverage industry.

Mayor Emanuel, join other mayors across the country in standing up against the beverage industry, do not fall prey to this industry-sponsored ploy!

Drew Lee, Albany Park

Gun tax won’t work

This is in response to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s proposal to impose an additional tax on firearms and ammunition.

Before the board members vote on this proposed law, I urge them to ask two questions.

1) Will criminals, who almost universally are not eligible to buy ammunition in Illinois, actually pay this tax?

2) How will taxing law-abiding people for the acts of criminals reduce violent crime?

Louis J. Berardi, Downers Grove

Halloween costumes stigmatize mentally ill

As the Halloween season approaches, I would like to make a request on the behalf of all the families in our Kane County area that have experienced a mental illness in their family life: Please do not use or promote the image of someone who is mentally ill as a costume character. The image of a strait-jacketed or ax-wielding “mad” man or woman only contributes to the inaccurate portrayal of those with mental illness. “Horror Houses” that use such characters add to this myth. These images are hurtful and add to the stigma suffered by those with mental illness. This stigma often results in delay in getting needed treatment for their illness.

Most mental illness is caused by a biological chemical imbalance in the brain. Mental illness is a disease, just like cancer or diabetes. Would you favor an image or character that makes fun of those diseases? I would hope not.

It also perpetuates the myth that all mentally ill persons are dangerous. Statistically, persons with mental illness are much more likely to be victims of crime, rather that the perpetrators of it.

Lastly, these images also convince people that having a mental illness is hopeless. The facts show that most mental illnesses can be successfully treated. Treatment works for the great majority of people.

So please no raving or drooling “maniacs” this Halloween. You could be making fun of a neighbor or relative. Please stick to vampire fangs and werewolf hair and have a good time this Halloween!

Jerry J. Murphy, executive director, INC board, NFP,

chair, Kane County Mental Health Council, Aurora

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