CLEVELAND — Cleveland City Council approved an ordinance to make healthy drinks -- water, low-fat milk and 100% fruit juice -- the default options offered with restaurant kids’ meals. There will be a six-month implementation period, so restaurants and other businesses have time to adjust their menus and train staff.
Cleveland City Council discussed the topic during a 10 a.m. press conference Thursday (watch it below) with representatives from the Ohio Restaurant Association, the Ohio Beverage Association and the American Heart Association.
While restaurants must offer healthy choices as drink options with kids’ meals, parents still have the option to request other drinks off the menu.
"I, along with the Health and Human Services Committee and this 133rd Cleveland City Council are committed to eliminating health disparities in our community. It is imperative that we do whatever is necessary to mitigate the contributing factors to obesity and poor health conditions," said Councilman Blaine Griffin, who sponsored the measure. "I also want to commend all of the partners who collaborated on this legislation. They worked together to make sure we put children and families first without tremendously impacting their industry.
3News streamed a press conference about the new healthy drinks legislation Thursday morning, which you can watch in full below:
“Between sports and energy drinks, fruit drinks with added sugar, and soda, the average child in America consumes 30 gallons of sugary drinks per year. That is enough to fill a bathtub, and it puts our kids at risk," says Valerie Hillow Gates, Executive Director of the American Heart Association in Cleveland.
Studies show that drinking sugary beverages can lead to a slew of chronic illnesses, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and dental decay. Moreover, when it comes to kids’ meals, things are more challenging for some kids than others. In neighborhoods with limited access to grocery stores and nutritious meals, restaurant meals are a prime source of daily calories. The healthy default drinks policy addresses the health inequities that exist in our community, and it offers protections for Cleveland kids.
“Sugary drinks are the leading source of added sugars in the American diet and it plays a significant role in childhood obesity. Reducing the amount children consume gives them the healthy start they need,” said Dr. Janine Arruda of University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital. “Serving kids better, more nutritious drinks is a win for Cleveland kids and families.”
The Cleveland Healthy Kids’ Meals Coalition, which is made up of 40 organizations including the American Heart Association and Voices for Healthy Kids, has been working for more than a year to raise awareness about health impacts of sugary drinks and to pass a policy to improve the drink offerings on restaurant kids’ meals.