When I was first introduced to the Healthy Drinks for Kids initiative for the city of Long Beach, I knew this policy would have great potential to influence childhood food consumption patterns and alter the course of the childhood obesity epidemic. If passed, this measure would offer water, low fat milk or 100% juice with kid’s meals as opposed to soda, unless otherwise requested by the consumer. A simple modification with promising impact.
I began working on this policy initiative with Claudia Goytia in September of 2016 when I was a AHA Advocacy Volunteer and Spokesperson for the Greater Los Angeles Division. Leveraging my background in research with my interests in health policy, I attended meetings with the Department of Health in Long Beach where I presented fact sheets based on leading health concerns and health indicators in Long Beach and research indicating a need for support on this policy proposal.
Since policy change does not happen without community engagement, I reached out to community groups to set up introductory meetings to gain their support on this initiative as we move toward a final vote.
Policy change does not happen in a vacuum and it has been an incredible journey fostering partnerships with local government, community stakeholders, and residents to achieve healthier changes in society.
As an active Advocacy Committee member, I hope to continue engaging in local policy initiatives that advance health outcomes for youth and adults in the Greater Los Angeles Area. If you want to get involved in supporting heart healthy legislation in your local community, please contact Josh Brown at Josh.Brown@heart.org.
Nicole is a Candidate for the Masters of Public Health program at UCLA.