A new state bill is one step closer to making soda less accessible to children at California restaurants. Senate Bill 1192, which passed the Assembly floor late last week, blocks restaurants from offering soda as part of a kid's meal.
According to the bill's language, a restaurant that sells a children's meal shall offer water, sparkling water, flavored water, or unflavored milk as the default beverage with the meal. The bill does not prohibit parents from purchasing soda or fruit juice as an alternative beverage, but the restaurant may not offer it as part of the kids' meal package.
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The bill cites the health ramifications of drinking sugary beverages, including obesity and cancer. In fact, in 25 years, the obesity rate in California increased by 250%. The intent of the Legislature, according to the bill, is to support parents' efforts to feed their children nutritiously by ensuring healthy beverages are the default options in children's meals in restaurants.
"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," said Stephanie Winn from the American Cancer Society.
The bill, currently on its way to Governor Jerry Brown's desk, is causing some controversy among parents. Ken Barnes, a California resident, tweeted, "Why is this law even necessary? I'm old enough to remember when my mom would say "put down that soda, drink some water if you're thirsty."
Some parents who oppose the bill feel that the government is overstepping its boundaries by telling parents what is best for their children.
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"While it may sound well-intentioned and innocent enough on the surface to limit drink options for the sake of children's health, every time you limit the rights of parents you expand the rights the government," writes Lauren DeBellis Appell. "Big Government can't even run the DMV effectively and we're supposed to willingly allow them to make decisions in the best interest of our kids? If we can't be trusted to be our kids' parents, then what's our purpose? Banning straws, dictating the content of your kids' meals; sensing a pattern?" he continues.
While the opposition is vocal, many parents support the legislation, sharing that they appreciate all the help that they can get in curbing sugar-intake for their children.
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