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Dr. Steven Fera, Rhode Island

Dr. Fera recently testified at the State House on the American Heart Association's "Healthy Beverage Act" proposal.

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We would like to extend sincere thanks to Dr. Steven Fera for his passion, dedication and commitment to the lifesaving mission of the American Heart Association! After attending our "Healthy School Marketing" Lobby Day on April 4th, Dr. Fera stayed at the State House until 10:30 p.m. to testify before the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee on a bill that would ensure our children are offered a healthy beverage when they order a restaurant kids’ meal by switching the default beverage from soda and sugary drinks to milk, water or 100% juice.

Dr. Fera highlighted many important points during his testimony:
• Consuming sugary drinks poses a real health risk to kids.
• Sugary drinks are the single leading source of added sugars in the American diet and are associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic diseases.
• The American Heart Association recommends that children over the age of 2 have no more than one 8-ounce sugary drink a week. Yet children today are consuming as much as ten times that amount.
• Despite the health risks associated with soda and other sugary drinks, the majority (74%) of the top restaurant chains’ default beverage with a kids’ meal is a sugary drink.
• As families are eating out more and more, we need to ensure that children have access to healthy options.
• The age of children who are most likely to eat kids’ meals is 2-5 years old. This proposal will help them develop healthy drinking patterns early and change existing norms.
• We need to start these interventions early because research indicates that obese children are twice as likely to become obese adults.
• This is a serious concern as the costs associated with preventable obesity-related illnesses continue to sky-rocket.
• Rhode Islanders already spend more than $550 million on obesity-related medical costs – more than half of these expenditures are incurred by the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
• This approach has proven effective – when Walt Disney theme parks switched to healthier beverage defaults, parents stuck with the healthier option 68% of the time.
• At McDonald’s, changing the default beverage resulted in 21 million more low-fat and fat-free milk jugs and 100 percent apple juice boxes sold over a period of 11 months, compared to the same period a year earlier.

 

 

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