Could Sugary Drinks Come Off Connecticut’s Kid’s Menus?

Juice, sodas and chocolate milk could all disappear from children’s menus in Connecticut if a newly proposed bill is given the OK.

Under proposed House Bill No. 7006, there would be no beverages other than water, sparkling water, flavored water with no added sweeteners, unflavored milk or a nondairy milk alternative on kid’s menus.

A restaurant could still sell a customer a drink off of the adult menu for their child.

But Harvey Lee, general manager of The Shack, a family-friendly restaurant in Groton, said that could ultimately hurt the customer.

“Now they’re going to be paying for a regular sized drink and pretty much paying more than what they would for be for a kid’s meal,” Lee said.

“I don’t think it’s wrong to have (soda and juice) on the kids menu,” said Omar Mejias, of New Britain, who went for lunch at The Shack Friday.

He ordered his son Gabriel orange juice of the kid’s menu calling it a treat for the 2-year-old who usually drinks water.

It’s all about moderation, according to Mejias.

“I think it’s wrong for people to decide for parents what their kids should eat, or drink, or watch, or anything like that.”

“It’s not cigarettes, it’s not drugs, it’s not alcohol, it’s just a little bit of sugar,” said Ledyard mom Jennifer Wessell.

She has a 12-year-old and said while she understands regulating the sale of sugary drinks in schools, the kid’s menu restrictions would be too much.

“Obviously I am right there to say ‘yes you can have it’ or ‘no you can’t have it,’” Wessell said.

But dad Randy Russ, who has a son who’s now too old to use the kid’s menu, said this would help educate parents about added sugars and possibly limit a child’s intake.

“I would be in favor of it because we have a childhood obesity problem in this country and it’s being fueled by this type of thing,” Russ, of Pawcatuck, said.

In this bill, health inspectors would be required to check the menus during regular inspections. It would also require the Commissioner of Public Health to adopt inspection and enforcement procedures.

In 2006, a law was passed that banned selling soda and other sugary beverage in Connecticut’s public schools. It was designed to help fight childhood obesity and prohibited the sale of all soda and electrolyte replacement drinks, like Gatorade.

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