State Follows Davis on Default Beverages for Children


Sugary BeverageBack in 2015, Davis became the first in the state to move away from soda as the default beverage for kids’ meals.

At the time, staff noted, “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.”

Now it has become state law – and in fact, it has gone a step further, moving away from juice as a default beverage as well.

Senator Bill Bonning’s bill, SB 1192, was signed into law by Governor Brown back in September.  SB 1192 requires a restaurant, which serves a meal primarily targeted and marketed to children, to make the default drink option served in bundled meals a healthful beverage – water, sparkling water, flavored water with no added sweeteners, or milk.

Senator Monning noted that “our state is in the midst of a public health crisis where rates of preventable health conditions like obesity and Type-2 Diabetes are skyrocketing, due in large part to increased consumption of sugary beverages.”

He explained, “This bill is an important part of a statewide public health strategy that will better inform consumers about the unique impacts that sugary beverages have on their health and that of their families.”

Numerous cities and counties throughout the state have already implemented a healthful default beverage ordinance, and many restaurants and quick-service food establishments have already voluntarily taken steps to provide healthier drink options in their children’s meals.

Senator Monning added, “SB 1192 follows the lead of our local communities and the restaurant industry, and implements a statewide healthful default beverage policy in California, while still maintaining consumer choice.”

A statewide policy on healthful default beverage options will have a direct impact on families making healthier and more nutritious choices when they choose to eat outside of the home.  Customers can still explicitly ask to replace the healthful drink with a sugary beverage at no additional cost, but the default beverage offered in a children’s meal must be a healthful option.

The victory comes just a few months after a deal with the soda industry left communities unable to enact soda tax.

In an article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel this week, Senator Monning told the paper, “We think it’s an important step forward in both education of parents and children and also having the marketplace prioritize more healthful beverages for meals that are marketed to children.”

The article cites research from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research that found that more than 40 percent of California children drank at least one sugary beverage per day in 2014.  That is “a habit that researchers have shown drastically increases a child’s risk of obesity and diabetes.”

Like in Davis, restaurants will still be able to serve soda or juice with kids’ meals on request.  However, the requirement is now to opt in, rather than opt out.  Moreover, “those sweetened drinks can no longer be advertised, or listed, as part of any combo meal intended for children. Sparkling water and unsweetened flavored water are permitted, as is a nondairy milk alternative.”

Restaurants will have to make the switch by January 1, 2019, or face fines up to $500 for repeated violations, with enforcement left to county health departments.

Cities including San Francisco, Berkeley and Davis have similar ordinances on the books.  The bill was actually styled after Dan Wolk’s efforts in Davis.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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21 thoughts on “State Follows Davis on Default Beverages for Children”

    1. Mark West

      “Good, sugar is poison.”

      The real poison is not the disaccharide sucrose, what most know as ‘table sugar,’ but the monosaccharide fructose derived primarily from corn and added to many (most) processed food items (often as ‘high fructose corn syrup.’) Our bodies have evolved to metabolize sucrose efficiently as it is commonly found in many whole foods, but we are not prepared to meet the excess demands of the high doses of added fructose that are now found in our food stream. Added fructose is the real enemy, not generic ‘sugar.’

  1. Tia Will

    In the amounts used in sodas and other sugary beverages, with the possibility of rapid consumption of large amounts, Jim’s statement is the literal truth, not hyperbole. When assessing the word “poison” bear in mind that poisons can be rapid or slow acting. Sugar happens to be slow acting, but with high morbidity.

    1. Howard P

      Guess no one should eat complex carbohydrates.  Body (for most) converts those to sugars… your clarification as to dosage and delivery method(s) sounds right… but the over-arching statement  by Jim Hoch is patently untrue… you choose not to refute that… OK, wrong, factually, but your choice.  Your right.

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        In a lot of ways, sugar is poison for me and yet, even then, I have to consume some carbs/ sugar. I have to keep that number generally to 30 g or less per meal.

  2. Jim Hoch

    Poison “a substance that is capable of causing the illness or death of a living organism when introduced or absorbed.”

    Certainly sugar fits this definition and is likely more deadly than ciggies.


    1. Keith O

      Just about any substance would fall under that definition if too much is absorbed.

      Remember the lady who drank too much water and died while trying to win her son a prize on a radio show contest?

        1. Jim Hoch

          TPV = The People’s Vanguard

          The People’s Vanguard of is a community-based watchdog and news reporting organization covering the city of Davis, Yolo County Courts, and more

      1. Howard P

        Keith… yes, I remember that… idiots do what idiots do… some call it “natural selection”… some folk just need to be removed from the pool… the gene pool… parents who ‘enable’ their kids to consume too much of the “wrong sugar” (we all need a ‘sugar’, aka carbohydrates)…

        So, we should ban apples, watermelon, milk, strawberries, all chocolate, any complex sugar?  All ‘sports drinks’?

        I get the fact that some parents “feed” their kids Cokes, etc.  Stupid.

        At 6-1, 145 lbs, who likes ‘sugar’ occasionally, the overarching statement that “sugar is poison” is flat out untrue… recovering over-imbibers of the ‘wrong sugars’?  Bread is converted to ‘sugar’ in some… Tia should understand the difference between types of sugar, and ‘dosages’ …

        Have to leave for now, to eat a chocolate chip cookie my sister-in-law sent me… see my obit tomorrow?

    2. Howard P

      Air fits that definition of

      Poison “a substance that is capable of causing the illness or death of a living organism when introduced or absorbed.”

      Weird definition…

      Includes oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide,

      1. Howard P

        Cute.   And BS… I’ll bet you consume more total sugar than I do… fructose, lactose, etc. … see

        Refined glucose, in large quantities over years, can indeed be toxic… may God forbid that you ever deal with a person who took too much insulin (and needs sugar) and stand by your BS position that sugar is toxic (direct quote, I believe) and refuse to give them sugar or carbs that the body reduces to sugar, because it is “toxic”…

    1. Tia Will


      Consumed in too great a quantity at too fast a rate as sometimes happens in the condition called psychogenic polydipsia, water certainly can be a poison. Another accurate observation that dosage and rate of consumption matter when considering substances that can be harmful or act as poisons.

      Ibuprofen is another. Alcohol another. Insulin another. Interesting how that works as you noted previously.



      1. Howard P

        Have you had a patient who was hypo-glycemic?  How did you advise, particularly if it was profound?

        Did you suggest just water, as Jim H seems to favor?

        The overstatement of “sugar is a toxin/poison” is what I regale against… utterly stupid, ill-informed, dangerous assertion… and no, Tia you did not opine that… nor did you refute it.

        To be clear, my beverages of choice are iced tea, water, and milk… but my body needs ‘sugars’ either directly, or via complex carbohydrates… and no, I don’t use any inulin beyond what what my body produces…

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