Local Ordinances Work to Provide Kids with Opportunity to Grow Up Healthy

When your kids are thirsty, they need a refreshing drink to quench their thirst. We know that water is the best choice for us—it’s a beverage that’s going to keep our bodies healthy and hydrated!

Unfortunately, sugary drinks are often what children and adults reach for, sometimes because they’re cheaper, and sometimes because they’re easier to find. Whatever the reason, we’re not doing our bodies any favors. Sugary drinks are just “empty” calories. To make matters worse, sugary drinks have a unique and proven harm. Consumption is directly linked to expensive, chronic illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In fact, drinking just one sugary drink a day increases a woman’s risk for type 2 diabetes by 80% and increases a man’s risk of heart disease by 20%.

Sugary beverage consumption continues to be one of the leading causes of childhood obesity.  While Colorado is the least obese state for the adult population, the prevalence of overweight and obese children has risen substantially since 2003. According to data collected by the Healthy Beverage Partnership, a significant factor is that in Colorado, 18.2% of children consume at least one sugary drink per day.  This warrants a community-driven approach, specifically in populations most burdened by obesity, diabetes, and hypertension in the Denver Metro Region.

At a time when more people are concerned about their health and how what they eat and drink plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy weight in order to prevent issues such as diabetes and heart disease, we must focus on making healthy drink options the norm for kids and families.

It’s time we take steps to stop sugary drinks from hooking our kids. Here in Colorado, the American Heart Association is working with local municipalities to pass healthy beverage ordinances in Aurora, Denver, Golden and Longmont. Once passed, these ordinances would require that local restaurants make non-sugary beverages — like milk or water — the default beverage item in kids’ meals. These ordinances say the effort is “to protect the health and well-being of all children and families within the city, including those most impacted by adverse health conditions and disease.”

Stay tuned for updates on the work that we’re doing locally around these healthy beverage ordinances as we work to create a healthier Colorado for all.

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