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Kids were fed up with the effect of sugary drinks on people’s health in the small mountain town of Lafayette, Colorado (16% Latino).
They pushed city leaders for change, and scored a big victory in October 2017 when the Lafayette City Council voted 5-1 for an ordinance to require all local restaurants to offer only milk and water with kids’ meals.
This means that kids will no longer see enticing pictures of sodas or juices as an option on kid’s menus.
The city is the fifth U.S. city, and the first outside of California, with such an ordinance.
However, this isn’t an outright ban on sugary drinks. Parents can ask for a sugary drink with their child’s meal, and restaurants can meet that request.
Youth Speak Up for Healthier Generations
The ordinance is a huge success for the youth of Lafayette.
The Lafayette Youth Advisory Committee (LYAC) first formed in 2006. Today the group has 25 high-school and middle-school members.
In recent months, they pushed back against local marketing of unhealthy food options.
About 1 in 4 Colorado kids was overweight or obese in 2016. Latino kids are more obese, and they drink more sugary drinks, which heightens their risk of health issues, according to Salud America! research.
The LYAC started a campaign to urge local restaurants to encourage healthier choices for kids.
They met with the Boulder County Board of Public Health and the Lafayette City Council. They also conduct outreach at local events. For example, they volunteer to staff “happiness” stands to hand out water bottles and demonstrate the amount of sugar in drinks (e.g., one 20-ounce Coca-Cola has as much sugar as one Snickers, one Almond Joy, and seven Pixy Stix).
The city, for their part, drafted a new ordinance based on policies successfully adopted in California to discourage children’s consumption of soda.
Now approved, the new ordinance will take effect soon after the Sugar Sweetened Beverage Product Distribution Tax, a voter-initiated tax adopted by Boulder, Colo., voters in the November 2016 election. It went into effect July 2017.
22 of 75 Lafayette restaurants offer packaged children’s meals and will be impacted by the proposed ordinance, according to city leaders.
Making Healthy Choices Easier on Kid’s Menus
Although controversial, many Americans concerned about children’s sugar intake feel that in the midst of the country’s obesity epidemic it is necessary for governing agencies to dictate strong public health messages such as this.
Big food companies and restaurants have joined the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, a self-regulatory program administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus, which limits the marketing of unhealthy food to children.
Also, several chains have adopted practices to no longer automatically offer sodas with kid’s meals:
- Jack in the Box – 2016
- Burger King – 2015
- Wendy’s – 2015
- Dairy Queen – 2015
- Applebee’s – 2015
- IHOP – 2015
- Panera – 2014
- Subway – 2014
- Chipotle – 2014
- Arby’s – 2014
- McDonald’s – 2013
How Can You Get Involved?
Interested in redirecting soda marketing in your community?
Check out these resources:
- Food Marketing Workgroup is a large network of organizations and academic experts concerned about marketing of unhealthful foods and sugary beverages to children and adolescents.
- ChangeLab Solutions has a “healthy restaurants” resource page that offers a model “Healthy children’s menu ordinance” and guide to restaurant policy change.
- Voices for Healthy Kids at the American Heart Association has resources for advocates to improve nutrition and access to healthy choices for children.
And try our Salud America! Action Pack to add water bottle fountains at your school!