Committee Approves Sugar Drink Ban at Child Care Centers

Lawmakers in the State Capitol took a major step Monday toward banning sugary drinks for infants in child care centers across Connecticut.

The Education Committee approved such a ban, sending the measure to the House floor for debate. The proposal would take effect in October of this year.

The Connecticut Alliance of YMCAs has been pushing for such a ban this year, as several other states have made similar moves, and the number of obese children in the state has come into focus.

"We feel that by teaching as little as, as young as three or four years old that this will carry on with them for the rest of their life, to eat healthy and exercise, and be more physically active,” said John Catellan, Executive Director of the Connecticut YMCA Alliance.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health care non-profit, about 29% of all Connecticut children between the ages of 10 and 17. That’s an issue Catellan says has to be addressed.

He said "This is not a problem, this is an epidemic and the state needs to play some type of role in working with organizations such as ours in dealing with the childhood obesity issue."

The bill found both Republican and Democratic support, as both reconciled with the idea that this may be a place where government could play a helpful role in regulating the beverages available to children in child care centers.

Democratic Sen. Gary Winfield, (D – New Haven), said, "I'm always a little bit lukewarm about whether we should legislate how much sugar should be consumed or not consumed but if you're asking me if I'm going to vote for the bill, the answer would be, yes."

Sen. Toni Boucher said she normally wouldn’t support proposals that have the government reach into an industry or sector, but said this issue is different because of the potential for long reaching effects.

"The best predictor of really good fiscal health is really what we eat, what we drink” Sen. Boucher said. “Water, fresh fruits and vegetables more so than ever and too often now, like I said the quicker fix is processed food. Things later on that can lead to really bad health outcomes."

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