August 17, 2018
Newly passed legislation in California would prohibit restaurants from offering any drinks other than water or milk on kids menus. Now it's headed to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown's desk for his signature.
Senate Bill 1192 dictates that menus at privately owned businesses can list only water or milk as default drink options to accompany kids meals. The purported aim is to curb obesity and diabetes in children by discouraging the consumption of sugar-laden beverages.
Under the bill, kids aren't prohibited from consuming or ordering alternative beverages "if the purchaser requests one," but eateries can't advertise that kids meals include any drink selections other than "water, sparking water, or flavored water, as specified, or unflavored milk or a nondairy milk alternative."
The bill has passed the California Senate and Assembly and is awaiting the governor's signature. The bill was authored by state Sen. Bill Monning (D) and is backed by the American Heart and Stroke Association, MomsRising, Public Health Advocates, YMCA, and the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California.
The American Cancer Society also supports the legislation. Spokeswoman Stephanie Winn told KOVR-TV, "Cancer is fought in the halls of government, not just in the halls of the hospital."
Winn added, "Some of these kids are drinking up to three sodas a day. This is setting them up for tremendous cancer risks down the road. Because now we know that 20 percent of all cancers are tied to being overweight."
Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D) argued for the bill's passage prior to voting for the measure, telling his colleagues in the chamber, "Kids' meals shouldn't come with a side order of diabetes, obesity or cardiovascular disease," the Sacramento Bee reported.
Republican Assemblyman Matthew Harper criticized the proposed law, saying, "What's next? Are we going to insist that you have to have kale in your salad unless you specifically ask otherwise?"
Monning told CalMatters the legislation is "a thoughtful approach to giving families choice, making sure the choice is a healthful one but not taking away the right if they want to order the sugar-sweetened beverage."
If Gov. Brown signs the bill, California would be the first state in the U.S. to have such a law.