After hundreds of phone calls, meetings, emails and tweets to council members from dedicated AHA volunteers, we’re excited to announce that the Cleveland City Council has passed an ordinance that will make healthy drinks the automatic drink option in kids’ meals in Cleveland restaurants.
Between juggling work schedules, homework and activities, families are ordering out more than ever. By ensuring that water, milk or 100% juice are the default beverage options in kids' meals, we can significantly reduce the amount of sugary drinks our kids are consuming.
University Hospitals’ Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew, MD, the AHA board president, commended the Cleveland City Council’s unanimous vote to give children and families healthier options. She noted studies that show how sugary drinks can lead to a slew of chronic illnesses, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and dental decay.
“This is a simple way of helping parents make healthy choices when ordering off of the kids’ menu,” said Valerie Hillow Gates, the executive director of the Cleveland American Heart Association. "Moreover, when it comes to kids’ meals, things are more challenging for some children than others,” Gates explained. “In neighborhoods with limited access to grocery stores and nutritious meals, restaurant meals are a prime source of daily calories. The healthy default drinks policy addresses the health inequities that exist in our community, and it offers protections for Cleveland children.”
Special thanks to our advocacy champions, Dr. Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew, Dr. Janine Arruda, Chef Douglas Katz, AHA Executive Director, Valerie Hillow Gates and AHA Campaign Manager, James Meerdink, for their dedication to passage of this policy over the past year.
And on behalf of your AHA Ohio Advocacy Team, thank YOU for speaking out to create a healthier future for our kids!