04212021HAO1122SPRINGFIELD – A measure by State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) to ensure kids’ meals have healthy beverage options as a default to combat the risk of health issues is headed to the House.

“Improving the nutritional quality of restaurant children’s meals can help improve diet quality and cultivate lifelong healthy eating behaviors, which help children grow up at a healthy weight,” Hunter said. “If we can prevent children from having certain illnesses and behavioral issues, we should do everything in our power to do so.”

Senate Bill 1846 would require restaurants to provide water, sparkling water, unsweetened flavored water, unsweetened low-fat or non-fat milk, unsweetened non-dairy milk alternatives with fewer than 130 calories and align with National School Lunch Program nutrition standards, or up to 8 ounces of 100% fruit or vegetable juice as the beverages that automatically come in packaged “children’s meals.”

Parents would still have the choice to ask for other types of beverages, like soda or lemonade, if they wish.

A 2012 analysis reported that 33 percent of children eat foods or beverages from fast-food restaurants and 12 percent from full-service restaurants on a typical day. Americans spend almost half of their food budget on restaurant foods. Eating out by children has been associated with higher consumption of calories, sugary drinks, saturated fat, and total sugars, and with lower diet quality compared to meals at home.

Frequently drinking sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with dozens of health issues, including weight gain/obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney diseases, non-alcoholic liver disease, tooth decay and cavities, and gout. Diet soda isn’t much better, and is actually linked to an increased likelihood of gaining weight.

“Ensuring health for our children and future generations is something I am very passionate about, and I am proud to bring this groundbreaking legislation to our state,” Hunter said.

Senate Bill 1846 passed the Senate Wednesday and can be tracked online here. A podcast on this bill can be heard here.

Category: News

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