PHILADELPHIA (September 26, 2019) – Today, City Council passed legislation introduced by Councilmember Reynolds Brown (At-Large) that will require restaurants to make healthy beverages the default option for menu items designated for children. Drinking just one 12-ounce can of soda every day for a year is equal to 55,000 calories, or 15 pounds a year.
Councilmember Reynolds Brown stated, “Ensuring that these healthy beverage options are available to families is a step in the right direction toward the health and well-being of our City’s children.”
According to this legislation, a food service establishment that offers a children’s meal must first offer a healthy beverage choice, including water, nonfat milk, or one hundred percent juice. This change to the menu will not prohibit the restaurant from selling, or a customer from purchasing, a beverage other than these healthy options.
Two-thirds of children in the United States consume at least one sugary beverage per day. 17% of calories consumed by American children and teens come from added sugars-nearly half of which comes from drinks alone.
Approximately 41 percent of youth aged 6-17 in the City of Philadelphia are overweight or obese, which is 8 percent more than the national average. Data reveals that, overweight children and adolescents are more likely to become overweight or obese adults.
Jacob Zychick, Community Advocacy Director of the American Heart Association stated, “With one in five children impacted by obesity, we need to continue the proactive approach to improve health disparities seen in our city. We believe that this legislation is an important step to improve the healthy options that many families purchase in our city and would make the healthier choice the easier choice for many.”
Dwayne Wharton, Director of External Affairs for The Food Trust stated, “More than any other food or beverage, sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) make up 46% of our daily added sugar intake and are a major source of calories in our diets. SSBs have little, if any, nutrition value and strong research shows that they are a major contributor to a host of poor health outcomes such as weight gain, obesity and diabetes, as well as cardiovascular disease. The bottom line, most public health experts agree that SSBs contribute to the epidemic of diabetes and obesity in America today.”
Anthony Campisi, spokesperson for the American Beverage Association stated, “Philadelphia’s beverage companies know that parents and caregivers want to make the food and beverage choices that are best for their families. Many parents and caregivers believe water, milk and juice are some of the best beverage options they can offer their children which is why the beverage industry is committed to working with policymakers, like Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, along with our local customers and stakeholders to support and adopt default beverages in children’s meals across the City of Philadelphia.”
Childhood obesity can have a harmful effect on the body. Children who are obese are more likely to have psychological problems such as anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Consuming a healthy diet and being physically active helps children grow to maintain a healthy weight throughout childhood.
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