As an increasing number of restaurants opt to promote healthy beverage choices with their kids’ meals, California lawmakers are poised to take the next step.
According to KOVR, state Senate Bill 1192 recommends mandating that dining establishments offer water or milk as the default drinks with meals aimed at children.
The legislation would not override the parents’ wishes, but any other drinks would have to be specifically requested.
Democratic Assemblyman Kevin McCarty of Sacramento offered a dramatic defense of the bill, displaying a cup with nine sugar packets inside to represent the contents of a typical small soda.
“Kids’ meals shouldn’t come with a side order of diabetes, obesity or cardiovascular disease,” he said, according to The Sacramento Bee.
A number of advocacy groups, including the American Cancer Association, support what would be the first law of its kind in the U.S.
A spokeswoman for that organization said it should be the role of lawmakers to help establish healthy eating habits for the next generation.
“Cancer is fought in the halls of government, not just in the halls of the hospital,” Stephanie Winn said.
For many parents, not to mention their soda-loving children, the proposition is a harder sell.
In Inez Deocio’s opinion, the proposed law represents state government overstepping its bounds.
“I think the government shouldn’t determine what’s available when I as a mother know what’s best for my child,” she told CBS News.
Another local parent, Scott Gregory, agreed.
“As a parent, you should be able to decide for yourself whether your kid is going to have milk, water or soda,” he said. “The state shouldn’t be telling you that.”
One much younger opponent of the bill put it a different way.
“I need my root beer, I need my Fanta, I need my Sprite,” Isaiah Palacios told KOVR.
A number of Republican lawmakers, such as Assemblyman Matthew Harper of Huntington Beach, have similarly panned the proposal.
“Seriously, like, what’s next?” he asked. “Are we going to insist that you have to have kale in your salad unless you specifically ask otherwise?”
CA Dems passed legislation saying kids' meals will have to market with water, milk or nondairy alternative instead of soda, juice or chocolate milk. What about a woman/parent/dad’s right to choose? @sacbee_news @akoseff https://t.co/TZsbMHSZTC
— CA Senate GOP Caucus (@SenateRepCaucus) August 17, 2018
Nevertheless, Winn said that, in the long run, a bill like SB 1192 would be a step in the right direction.
“Some of these kids are drinking up to three sodas a day,” she said. “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.”
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