St. Louis officials OK keeping sugary drinks off kids’ menus

March 7, 2022 GMT

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Water, milk or fruit juice would be the default choice on St. Louis restaurant kids’ menus under a bill endorsed by the Board of Aldermen.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the board voted 25-1 on Friday to give first-round approval to the measure.

It is aimed at reducing the consumption of soda and other sugary drinks by kids in an attempt to cut juvenile obesity rates.

Alderman Sarah Martin, who sponsored the measure, says it was sought by the American Heart Association and has support from other health-related organizations.

She emphasized that the bill doesn’t prevent a parent from substituting another drink for their child.

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“This is in no way a mandate,” Martin said. “This is just an opportunity for us to weigh in and improve the public health of our community.”

As originally introduced, the measure didn’t include the juice option. Martin added that Friday via an amendment after the Missouri Restaurant Association raised concerns.

Maura Gray, a heart association lobbyist, said St. Louis is the latest in a series of cities to consider or adopt such legislation. She said the association hopes to convince the St. Louis County Council to pass a similar measure. A statewide law in Illinois went into effect in January.

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This story has been edited to clarify that the bill affects beverage choices on kids’ menus only.