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NYC Coalition Supports Healthy Kids' Meals

A growing list of health care and community organizations are working to ensure healthy drinks are the default option on children’s menus in every restaurant in New York City.

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The message below was sent to policymakers on December 7, 2017. The list of signatories is updated as organizations continue to show their support for healthy kids' meals.

If your organization would like to join the coalition, sign up here.

We, the undersigned health care and community organizations, ask you to promote kids’ health and ensure healthy drinks are the default option on children’s menus in every restaurant in New York City.

Consuming sugary drinks poses a real health risk to kids, yet sugary drinks are usually the beverage served with children’s meals.[i] Soda and other sugary drinks are the top source of added sugars in the American diet[ii] and excessive consumption of added sugars contributes to an increased risk of developing heart disease and obesity.[iii] We must protect the health of our youngest community members: in New York City, almost half of all elementary school children and Head Start children are not living at a healthy weight.[iv]

The healthy option should be the default option. Children’s restaurant menus, if they include drinks, should only include these healthy drink options:

  • Water, sparkling water, or flavored water, with no added sweeteners
  • Milk or non-dairy milk alternatives
  • 100% juice or juice blended with water, with no added sweeteners

Although parents should be allowed to choose from any drink, it is vital to make the healthy choice the easy choice.

New Yorkers agree that restaurants should provide healthier options on children’s menus. A Global Strategies Group survey of 601 New Yorkers commissioned by the American Heart Association in June 2017 found nearly universal support for healthier children’s menus. 87% agree with making healthy drinks like water and milk the default option on children’s menus. New Yorkers are also much more likely to take a child to a restaurant that offers healthy options on their menu. Healthy options on restaurant menus are good for kids’ health and good for restaurants’ bottom lines.

Communities, families, and businesses should work together to give all New Yorkers the opportunity to be healthy, especially children. Restaurants can support their communities by making healthy drinks like milk and water the default option on children’s menus.

Please support healthier kids’ menus. Contact Greg Mihailovich, Director of Grassroots Advocacy, American Heart Association at 212-878-5987 or [email protected] to discuss opportunities to advance kids’ health.


  1. American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Inc.
  2. American Heart Association | American Stroke Association
  3. Bronx Health REACH
  4. BronxWorks
  5. Center for Science in the Public Interest
  6. Citizens' Committee for Children of New York
  7. City Harvest
  8. Community Food Advocates
  9. CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute
  10. Edible Schoolyard NYC
  11. FoodCorps
  12. Montefiore Medical Center
  13. National Hispanic Health Foundation
  14. New York Common Pantry
  15. New York State American Academy of Pediatrics, Chapters 2 and 3
  16. Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness
  17. Teens for Food Justice
  18. The Beecher's Foundation
  19. The Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy, Teachers College Columbia University
  20. Tried and True Nutrition, Inc.
  21. West Harlem Group Assistance, Inc.


[i] Ribakove S, Almy J, Wootan MG. “Soda on the Menu: Top Restaurants Continue to Push Sugary Drinks on Kids” (unpublished data). 

[ii] U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, December 2015. Available at 

[iii] Johnson RK, et al. “Dietary Sugars Intake and Cardiovascular Health: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association.” Circulation 2009, vol. 120, pp. 1011-1020. Available at 

[iv] New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “Obesity.” Accessed November 1, 2017. Available at

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