In the coming months the city will be looking more closely at a program that could direct local restaurants to change the default beverage served with kids’ meals to healthier alternatives, moving away from surgery beverages.
First 5 Yolo is currently working with the City of Davis to adopt an ordinance that would require restaurants that offer kids’ meals to include only milk or water as the default beverage. According to First 5, there are about 20 restaurants in Davis that have kids’ meals that include soda as one of the beverage options.
Yesterday, UC Davis released a study that found that “[b]everag es sweetened with low, medium and high amounts of high-fructose corn syrup significantly increase risk factors for cardiovascular disease, even when consumed for just two weeks by young, healthy men and women.”
The study is reportedly the first that demonstrates there is a direct and dose-dependent relationship between the amount of added sugar consumed in sweetened beverages and increases in specific risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
The data reinforce evidence from an earlier epidemiological study showing that the risk of death from cardiovascular disease – the leading cause of death in the United States and around the world — increases as the amount of added sugar consumed increases.
“These findings clearly indicate that humans are acutely sensitive to the harmful effects of excess dietary sugar over a broad range of consumption levels,” said Kimber Stanhope, the study’s lead author and a research scientist in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
Professor Stanhope noted that the study findings underscore the need to extend the research using carefully controlled dietary intervention studies, aimed at determining what would be prudent levels for added sugar consumption.
In a city staff report from last fall, they write that California and the nation are experiencing a childhood obesity epidemic. “In Davis, one-quarter of all children in grades 5, 7 and 9 are overweight or obese. In 2012, more than half of all Davis 5th, 7th, and 9th graders failed to meet the CA Fitness Standards,” staff reports.
Staff notes, “Sugary beverages play a central and unique role in the obesity epidemic. Studies have found a significant link between sugary drink consumption and weight gain in children. Soda and sugary beverages are the single largest source of calories in children’s diets, and provide nearly half of kids’ added sugar intake.
“Cities are enacting policies to increase access to healthy beverages for children, such as adopting standards for beverages provided in parks, recreational facilities, and city-sponsored programs,” staff writes. “Restaurants serve as another important venue within cities where changing local policies on healthy beverages could contribute to the fight against childhood obesity.”
Staff continues, “Cities can promote good health for their youngest residents and support parents in purchasing healthy beverages for their children by adopting a policy that requires restaurants to offer water or low-fat milk as part of any kids’ meal unless a customer specifically requests an alternative beverage. First 5 Yolo has been working to explore whether the City of Davis could adopt such a policy.”
As we noted last fall and staff noted above, the First 5 reports that “sugary drinks play a central and unique role in the obesity epidemic.” They found that “soda and sugary drinks are the single largest source of calories in children’s diets and provide nearly half of kids’ sugar intake.”
Forty-one percent of children aged two to 11, and 62 percent of those aged 12 to 17 drink at least one soda or other sugar-sweetened beverage every day.
The risk of obesity increases by 60 percent with each additional daily serving of soda, which contains 16 teaspoons of sugar for each 20-ounce serving, making sweetened beverages the largest single source of added sugar in American diet.
This sugary drink requirement only tells restaurants what their kids’ meals should offer as the “default” option, it does not dictate to anyone what the kids can or cannot have.
—David M. Greenwald reporting