California bill aims to remove sugary beverages as default options for kids’ meals

A bill advancing through the California legislature seeks to remove soda, juice and chocolate milk as default options for kids’ meals and prevent them from being advertised alongside food marketed toward children.

Under the bill, water or regular milk would be the only default options for these meals. The sugary beverages could still be available at no extra charge, but only upon request. California would become the first state to restrict meals in this manner, according to the San Jose Mercury News, although some of its cities have passed ordinances with the same requirements.

“It’s 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,” Sen. Bill Monning, who proposed the bill, told the newspaper.

Health experts have said curbing sugary beverage consumption is one way to combat America’s problems with diabetes and obesity. Steering children toward water and healthier drinks could influence their long-term habits for the better.

“If we consume more sugar, we tend to crave more sugary things when we get older,” said Flojaune Cofer, director of state policy and research for Public Health Advocates, a sponsor of the bill.

Even though the bill passed the California Senate with bipartisan support, some parents and lawmakers told the Mercury News they believe parents should be trusted to make beverage choices for their children.

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