Louisville Metro Council passed an Ordinance requiring nutritional standards and a healthy default beverage in children’s meals, the first in the nation to adopt the combined standards. The so-called “healthy-by-default” rule that passed 13-11 by the Louisville Metro Council aims to tackle the city’s skyrocketing childhood obesity rate and worsening type II diabetes epidemic. This Ordinance follows the National Restaurant Association’s “Kids Live Well” Program.
Co-sponsor Councilwoman Vicki Welch (D-13) said, “Since restaurants are responsible for 25% of a child’s diet, this ordinance will be particularly effective in improving children’s health. Prevention of childhood obesity is also protecting our tax dollars from rising health costs of diabetes, tooth decay, high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.”
In the upcoming months, restaurants that serve meals aimed at children will be required to provide milk, non-dairy milk, water, sparkling water or less than 25 calories/8 ounces drinks with no added artificial sweeteners as the default beverage option. Customers will still be able to purchase sodas, juices and other sugary drinks upon request.
“Parents will now be given the opportunity to start the meal off right with healthy beverage and food options,” Co-sponsor Rick Blackwell said. “We hope most parents will stick with the healthier option, protecting their children from the long-term chronic problems associated with sugary drinks, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity and tooth decay.”
Various studies have linked a daily sugary drink habit to a 26% higher risk of type 2 diabetes, a 27% increased risk of adult obesity and a 55% greater risk of childhood obesity, as well as higher incidences of heart disease, liver disease and metabolic disorder. Sugary drinks contribute directly to diabetes by spiking glucose, converting fructose into fat in the liver and spurring excess insulin production, wearing out the pancreas. Sugary drinks also contribute to weight gain by adding empty calories – void of fiber and nutrients – that do not contribute to fullness.
Councilman Blackwell and Councilwoman Welch met with many interested parties in drafting this ordinance and believe the final product protects parents’ abilities to make decisions for their children while also minimizes the onus on businesses to comply with the new law.
Today, 30% of Louisvillians, 24% of sixth graders, and 18 % of kindergartens are obese. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one-in-three children born today will have diabetes by 2050.
“This policy is a common sense measure to support parents’ efforts to protect their children’s health. While communities all over the country wrestle with the disastrous consequences of growing childhood obesity and diabetes epidemics, Louisville drew a line in the sand.” said Welch. “The Council showed the powerful role that cities can play in solving big problems. Now, the healthy choice is the easy choice.”