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Moms need help from restaurants to keep their kids healthy. This bill encourages that

A young girl sips a bottle of Pepsi. Health advocates are pushing a bill to require restaurants to make the default drink with children’s meals something other than soda.
A young girl sips a bottle of Pepsi. Health advocates are pushing a bill to require restaurants to make the default drink with children’s meals something other than soda. Bloomberg

As a mom of two, I know as well as anyone that we lead busy lives and need to grab a meal on the run, in between school events or soccer games.

Today, more than half the meals in the United States are purchased outside the home, which means restaurants play a crucial role in shaping our health. That’s the principle behind Senate Bill 1192, and the reason so many parents like me support it.

Now on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk, SB 1192 would require restaurants that offer children’s meals to make the default option on drinks that come with them either water, sparkling water,flavored water without added sweeteners, or unflavored milk.

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That will help parents like me know that the healthy choice is an easy one, and that our children get the right messages about healthy behaviors. Our children are flooded with marketing for soda and junk food every place they turn.

I want my children to be offered healthy drinks. That’s incredibly important, especially now, as rising cases of Type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease pose a public health crisis for our children. One in three children born in the year 2000 are expected to develop Type 2 diabetes in their lifetimes. For Latino and black children, that figure is nearly one in two.

Donna Norton.jpg
Donna Norton

Unless we act, this may be the first generation of children who do not live as long as their parents. With sodas the number one source of added sugars in the American diet, we need to take action now to reduce their consumption — and parents can’t do this alone. We need restaurants and schools to back us up by offering healthy options.

SB 1192 would be an essential step in the right direction — and one that doesn’t take away the ability to order a sugary drink, if that’s what a parent chooses. MomsRising.org and tens of thousands of members across the state urge Gov. Brown to sign this bill so that improving the health of California children will be part of his legacy.

Donna Norton of Stanford is executive vice president of MomsRising.org, a national advocacy group. She can be contacted at DonnaNorton@MomsRising.org.

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