Have you ever wondered how much healthier we would be if sugary drinks were not the first beverages offered to us in combo meals at restaurants? For kids in California, this may soon be the new reality.
Drinking just one sugar sweetened beverage (SSB) a day increases a kid’s chances of being overweight by 55%. One promising approach to curbing SSB consumption that has recently been gaining momentum is a healthy default beverage policy, which requires that restaurants provide only water or milk (sometimes 100% fruit juice as well) as the normal offerings in kids’ combination meals. The strength of this policy is two-fold: 1) it doesn’t cost more or require any additional thought or effort to make a healthier choice, and 2) it influences dietary behaviors in the away-from-home food environment, where families are consuming an increasingly larger portion of their calories.
Without any major opposition, policies have already passed in ten cities throughout the country, eight of which are in California. The American Heart Association has worked directly with cities like Long Beach and Daly City to help pass healthy default beverage policies, and is now looking to secure the passage of this policy at the state level with SB 1192. This bill would make water or unsweetened milk the default beverages for kids’ combo meals in all California restaurants. If this policy were to pass, it would have a huge impact on kids’ drinking habits and health, especially for kids in communities that are disproportionately targeted by the beverage industry.
SB 1192 represents a crucial norm-changing strategy to help reduce the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and protect the health of our kids. Please consider supporting this policy by making a call to your Assembly member.