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Columbus Council Considers Order Pushing Healthier Drinks With Kids Meals

A McDonald's billboard in Kentucky.
A McDonald's billboard in Kentucky.

Columbus City Council is expected to pass a resolution requiring restaurants to make healthy drinks the default options offered with kids’ meals at restaurants.

The order, which the Council hopes will help curb childhood obesity, describes healthy drinks as water, low-fat milk or 100% fruit juice.

Council's proposal cites a 2019 report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that states about one of every six kids in Ohio is obese. It also says the obesity rate for preteens and teenagers is 17.1%, which is the 10th-highest preteen and teen obesity rate in the country.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of children impacted by obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s.

If Council passes the measure, any food service operation offering a children’s meal that includes a beverage, but that fails to present water, low-fat milk or fruit juice as default options with the meal, will receive a warning upon first offense. Upon second offense, the restaurant will owe $25. Upon third offense, the restaurant would owe $50.

The city health department will be tasked with enforcing the order.

Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.