Santa Clara Co. supervisors ban sugary drinks from being included in fast food kids' meals

By Bay City News Service

Sugar-sweetened beverages will no longer be included in kids' meals at Santa Clara County restaurants following an ordinance passed 4-0-1 Tuesday morning by the Board of Supervisors.

All four supervisors who were present voted for the measures. Supervisor Mike Wasserman was not at the meeting to vote.

The new rule updates a 2008 ordinance to include prohibiting the sale of drinks other than unsweetened milk and unsweetened water with kids' meals.

The board also voted to support the adoption of a new policy in the Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital System to end the sale of sugary beverages in the cafeteria, café and gift shop of the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

In 2013 and 2014, a survey of parents in Santa Clara County found that about 1 in 7 kids between the ages of 2 and 12 had drunk a sugar-sweetened beverage the previous day, with higher rates among Hispanic
children, said Sara Cody, health officer and Public Health Director for the county.

More than 55 percent of middle and high school students in the county reported drinking a sugary drink the previous day, not including soda, tea or coffee drinks, Cody said.

One in 10 adults in the county, including higher rates among adults with lower incomes and less education along with Hispanic adults, have reported drinking soda every day, lower than the national average.

"It's well established that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages does contribute to the risk for diabetes and overweight and obesity," said Cody said.

About 1 in 4 adolescents and 54 percent of adults in the county are overweight or obese, with higher rates among Hispanics and African-Americans.

Over 70 percent of Hispanic adults in Santa Clara County are overweight or obese, Cody said.

In Santa Clara County, over 45 percent of adults have diabetes or pre-diabetes, according to Cody.

"Not only is it prevalent, but it's rather expensive," Cody said of diabetes in her presentation to the board. "The estimated costs of treatment of diabetes, once you have it, is around $35 billion annually in
California."

Jessica Lynam, a lobbyist for the California Restaurant Association, said in public comment that parents shouldn't have to order a separate beverage with a child's meal.

"The cities of Stockton, Davis and Chula Vista have all proceeded with regulations on sugar-sweetened beverages within children's meals while still allowing a parent, adult or guardian to choose if a consumption of a sugar-sweetened beverage within their children's meal is acceptable," Lynam
said, calling the rulings "a true middle-ground approach."

"I think we know that parents can separately purchase [sugar-sweetened beverages] if they want, but it shouldn't be part of a kid's meal," responded Supervisor Ken Yeager, who introduced the ordinance. "Why in the world would you put something that is so poisonous on their plate?"

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