The next time you get a kid's meal in Davis, milk and water might be the only options offered.
On Tuesday, the Davis City Council unanimously passed a city ordinance that will make restaurants in the Sacramento suburb offer either water or milk as the default beverage with kid's meals. Soda or sugary juices will still be available at not extra cost, but they must be requested by the parents. Restaurants in violation of the rule face fines that could go up to $500.
"Prior to this ordinance, the soda industry was selecting what your child would drink," Julie Gallelo, executive director of First 5 Yolo, told The Sacramento Bee. "This puts milk and water at the forefront." The rule is intended to be part of a larger fight against childhood obesity. Almost 40% of children in the fifth, seventh, and ninth grades in the United States are said to be overweight or obese. Davis officials estimate a quarter of the city's children are overweight.
The law, which goes into effect on September 1, is the first of its kind in the nation. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the ordinance has been met with very little resistance from both residents and local restaurants. Of Davis' 122 restaurants, one one-fifth offer sugary sodas or juices as the default option, and only four offer healthy options as the standard.
A spokesman for the California Restaurant Association cautioned that simply eliminating sugary drinks was not a "silver bullet" to curb childhood obesity, but added, "We do appreciate the fact that it's not a mandate and that it does allow for parental choice."
Only one resident spoke against the rule at the City Council meeting on Tuesday. "This is kind of overkill," said Dorte Jensen.