Youngstown restaurants must default to healthy drinks on kids’ menu

Local News

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Parents, if you’ve ever been out to eat and order off the kids’ menu, you might have only had the option of water or pop for your child.

However, a new law in Youngstown will change that, requiring restaurants to add healthy options to their menus.

Look for changes on the kids’ menu soon when you go out to eat in Youngstown.

This one soda contains 138% of the sugar you need in a day and that’s just for an adult size body. For small children, it can be several days’ worth of sugar.

Youngstown City Council voted Wednesday to make healthy drinks the default option in kids’ meals.

Youngstown’s new ordinance will change the way kids’ menus work in the city. Restaurants will be required to have other options for their children’s menu.

“Milk, low sugar juice instead of just soda. Soda is a huge component to childhood obesity,” said Samantha Turner, 3rd ward councilmember.

It’s all in an effort to give parents healthy options.

These choices will be water, low-fat milk and 100% fruit juice.

“You have adult options on there whereas small children might not drink soda yet,” said Julius Oliver, 1st ward councilmember.

Youngstown has the second-highest poverty rate in the country, with areas lacking access to healthy food.

The default option will change, meaning if you want to still order soda for your child, it might not be included with the meal.

“Sugar, as we all know, is very addictive. It’s there. We love it, but it’s not the best for us,” said Dustin Holfinger of the American Heart Association.

According to medical experts, in Ohio, one child of three is obese by age eight, which can lead to diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.

“We recommend at the American Heart Association that kids drink no more than one sugary drink a week,” Holfinger said.

“It’s to give our children a better option. Not to remove it from a menu, not to penalize a restaurant but to help our community stay healthy,” Truner said.

Restaurants have to make the switch in the next six months.

Parents will still have the option to request other drinks.

Penalties for restaurants who refuse to comply are still in the works.

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