In July 2018, Baltimore became the largest US city to prohibit restaurants from including sugar-sweetened beverages on kids' menus. In September 2018, California made history by becoming the first US state to require either water or milk as the default beverage with children's meals at all restaurants. Supporters of children's meals laws view them as helping to change the culture of health on beverage preferences and subtly influencing the choices of patrons. Using subtle methods of influencing children's beverage choices at restaurants, or nudges, will not on its own eradicate childhood obesity. However, the law aims to make healthier choices easier options and to influence people's choices in predictable ways without restricting their options. Evidence from a wide range of fields shows that people tend to stick with defaults and that setting beneficial defaults has high rates of acceptability. The laws in Baltimore and California, along with the other jurisdictions that have passed similar legislation, reflect a growing understanding – among restaurant owners, community members and policymakers alike – of the importance of feeding children healthy meals. They also signal that making healthier beverages the default option on children's menus is gaining strength in the US. Cities and states across the country should consider enacting similar laws as part of a greater public health initiative to combat the childhood obesity epidemic.
- Pediatric obesity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health