Sacramento, California, USA : Kids’ meals would have to be served with water or milk under California Senate Bill 1192. The bill wants to curb the amount of sugary drinks consumed by children by having restaurants provide two default choices – water or milk.
Senate Bill 1192, which passed the California State Assembly on Thursday, is aimed at tackling childhood obesity, and requires that children be served milk or water unless a parent explicitly asks for something else. In that case, a child would still be allowed to drink soda or juice.
The bill is now making its way to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown. If the Governor signs, it will make California the first state to have such a law. However, similar restrictions have already been introduced in individual cities in California and other parts of the country.
The bill is being supported by the American Cancer Society. “Some of these kids are drinking up to three sodas a day. This is setting them up for tremendous cancer risks down the road,” Stephanie Winn of the American Cancer Society said. “Because now we know that 20 percent of all cancers are tied to being overweight.”
Some parents are angry, saying the state shouldn’t interfere in the matter.
Some parents are upset with the bill, saying that it’s not the state’s place to dictate what their children can drink.
“I think the govt shouldn’t determine what’s available when I as a mother know what’s best for my child,” local resident Inez Deocio told reporters.
“As a parent, you should be able to decide for yourself whether your kids can have milk, water, or soda. The state shouldn’t be telling you that,” resident Scott Gregory said.
Some restaurants have already voluntarily taken similar steps to cut down on the calorie counts of their offerings. McDonald’s announced nearly five years ago that it would stop marketing soft drinks as a beverage option in its Happy Meal for kids, though they are still available upon request; in February, it pulled chocolate milk from the menu as well.
Several Republican members criticized SB 1192 for allowing the government to step in and take over parents’ role and for putting further burdens on small businesses.
“Seriously, like, what’s next?” Assemblyman Matthew Harper, R-Huntington Beach, asked. “Are we going to insist that you have to have kale in your salad unless you specifically ask otherwise?”
The bill comes amid the failure of another piece of California soda legislation, which flopped in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday. That bill would have required every sugar-sweetened beverage sold in a sealed container to include the words: “STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and tooth decay.”
In March, California made headlines after a judge ruled that coffee sold in the state must come with a cancer warning, due to the presence of a chemical called acrylamide. However, the ruling could soon be reversed after the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, the state agency tasked with regulating the cancer warning requirement, proposed a regulation which would allow an exemption for coffee. Acrylamide is not an ingredient in coffee, but merely a byproduct of roasting.
A study from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that two-thirds of children ages 2 to 19 drink at least one sugary beverage a day. The CDC also found an association between frequent soda consumption and obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, nonalcoholic liver disease, tooth decay and cavities.