Go ahead and scoff, Fox News.
You too, Orange County Register.
To you, state Sen. Bill Monning’s latest “kooky” effort to keep sugary drinks like soda and fruit juice out of the mouths of babes is another infringement on parents’ (and restaurants’) rights.
That’s a lot of baloney.
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Monning’s bill, which now sits on the governor’s desk, would require restaurants that sell combo meals for kids to offer water, plain milk or a nondairy alternative as the beverage choices, rather than soft drinks or sugary juices full of empty calories.
This does not ban restaurants from serving soda to kids, as some news outlets initially claimed.
It is not a socialist plot to strip parents of their rights; they would still be able to purchase whatever they want for their children, though they may have to endure some judgmental eye rolls from nearby customers.
And it’s not some wild idea limited to “Nanny-Fornia”; similar laws already have been passed or are being considered in other locations around the nation, though California’s would be the first statewide regulation.
Monning’s bill is a small — very small — step in transitioning us away from something that health experts agree is really, really bad for us.
While we haven’t supported all of our local senator’s efforts against Big Soda — we opposed Monning’s attempts to pass a statewide soda tax, for example — we can support a law that’s specifically targeted at promoting the health of young children.
It’s not going to solve an obesity crisis overnight, but it’s one of many efforts — such as healthier school lunches and increased emphasize on exercise — that add up over time.
As we see it, this is mostly about reining in slick marketing campaigns that can contribute to getting kids hooked on sugary drinks at a very young age — something that can set them up for a lifetime of problems like diabetes, obesity and tooth decay.
Now, water or milk will have the place of honor in promotional materials — instead of those enticing pictures of fizzy cola or orange soda.
Several restaurant chains, including McDonald’s, Jack in the Box, Wendy’s and Burger King, already have switched to healthier beverages as their default option — good for them — but according to a 2016 survey by Science in the Public Interest, a majority of chains continue to offer sodas as part of their kids’ meals.
With enough pressure from parents and health advocates, we believe those hold-out restaurants would eventually pull sodas from their kids’ meals.
But why wait? This legislation would fast-track a small but beneficial change; raise more awareness about the harmful effects of sugary drinks on children’s health; and reinforce parents’ efforts to encourage healthy eating.
It would also finally give Sen. Monning a small victory in his years-long campaign to wean us off soda — or to at least make us recognize what it does to our bodies.
We urge Gov. Brown to sign the Monning’s legislation without delay.