Liias bill would require healthier kid beverages


Last updated 1/30/2020 at 8:48am

Marko Liias

State Sen. Marko Liias (D-Lynnwood), who represents Edmonds in the 21st Legislative District, is making a case for a bill that would require restaurants to offer healthier drink options for any children's meal on the menu that includes a beverage.

SB 6455 would require the default beverage that comes with a children's meal offered in a restaurant to be either:

– Water, sparkling water, or flavored water with no added natural or artificial sweeteners;

– Unflavored milk; or

– Any other nondairy alternative that contains fewer than 130 calories per container or serving.

"Kids learn a lot at a young age," said Liias. "If we can teach them healthier habits when they're young, they're much more likely to make healthier choices when they become adults."

Liias introduced the bill as an effort to reduce child obesity rates and address a steadily worsening public health issue.

According to the CDC, adult obesity medical costs were estimated at $147 billion in 2008. Medical costs for people who have obesity are $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.

Liias stressed that his legislation does not prohibit restaurants from providing less healthy beverages with children's meals upon request.

"I wanted to make that very clear in the bill," he said. "This isn't an attempt to force restaurants to sell one product over another. There are no heavy mandates here. But with obesity rates trending in the wrong direction, all ideas need to be on the table to address this serious public health issue."

SB 6455 was referred to the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee where it received a public hearing Jan. 24. An identical companion bill – HB 2383, sponsored by Rep. Monica Stonier (D-Vancouver) – was introduced in the House of Representatives.

The bills have until Feb. 7 to be approved by their respective committees to be eligible for further consideration this session.

The 2020 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn for the year March 12.


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