With the 2015 Legislative Session well underway, the American Heart Association is working on an exciting campaign to improve the health of Maryland children.
As most parents are well aware, many restaurants offer menu items just for kids. Given the high rates of childhood obesity in Maryland, it’s important to ensure that kids’ meals include healthy options. Unfortunately nearly 80% of the top chain restaurants offer soda as the automatic beverage in kids’ meals.
Did you know that one 12-ounce orange soda has 12 teaspoons of sugar? That’s 3-4 times what the American Heart Association recommends a child consume in one day! Drinking just one 8-ounce sugary drink each day increases a child’s risk of obesity by 60%. Obesity has a negative impact on nearly every part of our bodies, and it’s a risk factor for many diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Obesity also leads to billions of dollars in financial costs each year. Today, 21% of all health care costs are due to obesity-related conditions.
While there are many factors that contribute to obesity, improving the nutritional quality of kids’ meals is one step towards turning this epidemic around. Studies show that people are more likely to select the item that’s listed on the menu rather than request an alternative. If kids’ meals include healthy beverages—like low-fat milk or water—then that’s what kids are likely to drink.
Listen to some inside scoop on why this effort is so critical:
<Special thanks to You're the Cure intern Hannah Jones for help crafting this blog post>