Lawmakers have introduced new legislation in Washington state, known as Senate Bill 6455. The bill looks to take sugary drinks like soda off of kids’ menus at restaurants. SB 6455 doesn’t prohibit parents from purchasing soda or other sugary drinks for their children, instead, the bill will remove these options from the kids’ menus, with the intention being that parents will be encouraged to purchase healthier beverages—like milk or water for their children.
The bill’s been sponsored by eight lawmakers. Sen. Marko Liias (D) was inspired to sponsor the bill because of concern over rising levels of obesity and obesity-related healthcare costs.
“I think, like many Washingtonians, I’m concerned about the rising levels of obesity and obesity-related healthcare costs.” Liias said. “In particular, I’m really worried about a new generation of Washingtonians growing up that’s in poorer health than the generation that came before them; so I want to make sure that our kids and the future generations live healthier, better stronger lives than their parents.”
According to Liias, the bill’s facing very little opposition, and many fast-food chains are already taking sodas off of kids’ menus. However, the option to purchase sugary drinks for children remains up to the parents.
“Parents know what’s best for their kids at the end of the day,” Liias said, “and if today’s a special day—it’s their birthday and you want to have a soda or a milkshake for dessert—then of course parents are the best decision-makers.”
Liias said that pediatricians recommend parents steerclear of giving their kids an overabundance of sugary drinks and that the default option should be water or milk. The bill aims to make that choice easier for parents by displaying these default options and removing displays of sugary drinks on the kids’ menus.
“If it’s not on the menu, it’s not on their mind,” Liias said. Liias wants to get children thinking about their health at a young age, so that they develop good nutritional habits into adulthood. “Kids learn lifetime habits when they’re young,” Liias said.
On top of his belief that this will encourage parents to purchase healthier beverage options for their children, Liias also believed the bill will positively affect the local dairy industry in Washington. He hoped that by encouraging children to drink milk, it will have an impact on the industry.
The bill was passed after its third reading by the Rules Committee on Feb. 13, and is now being considered by the House of Representatives. Currently, the bill has yet to be passed into law.
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