California is now the first state to pass a Healthy by Default Kids’ Meals law. SB 1192 was authored by Senator Bill Monning (SD-17) and co-sponsored by the American Heart Association, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, MomsRising, Public Health Advocates and the California State Alliance of YMCAs.
SB 1192 goes into effect on January 1, 2019 and makes water or milk the default drink choice offered with all restaurant kids’ combo meals that include a beverage. The law determines what is advertised and offered, but parents retain the ability to request an alternative beverage at no additional charge.
“We know that many families are busy and frequently grab meals on the go,” said Dr. Flojaune Cofer, Director of State Policy & Research at Public Health Advocates. “By adopting SB 1192, California is supporting parents’ efforts to make the healthy choice the easy choice when dining out.”
Local healthy kids’ meal drink policies are not new in California. The City of Davis passed the first local healthy-by-default kids meal drink ordinance in the nation in 2015. Organizations including Public Health Advocates (PHAdvocates), supported the effort because of the harmful effects that sugar-sweetened beverages have on children. In 2016, PHAdvocates, with support from the American Heart Association, led the healthy-by-default kids’ meal drink work in the City of Stockton and succeeded in the unanimous adoption of a city ordinance.
PHAdvocates has helped several California cities pass local healthy-by-default kids’ meal policies including Berkeley, Cathedral City, Daly City, Long Beach, and Perris. Other jurisdictions with similar policies include San Francisco City and County, Santa Clara County, and Lafayette, Colorado.
With the rise of prediabetes, diabetes, obesity, and other chronic diseases in children across America, healthy-by-default kids meal drink policies are gaining momentum. In April 2018, Baltimore, Maryland, became the largest city in the nation to pass a healthy kids meal drink law. Currently, New York City, Washington, D.C., Vermont, New Hampshire, and Hawaii have proposals that look at making kids meals healthier with healthy default beverage options, and/or healthier food choices.