Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Local Lafayette youth stand up for kids

Lafayette Youth Advisory Committee helps to pass measure making healthy drinks the default option on kids’ menus

Boulder County, CO –Yesterday, the Lafayette City Council passed an ordinance to promote children’s health by requiring that only healthy beverages, such as water, milk, and milk alternatives, be offered on local restaurant kids’ menus. Spearheaded by the Lafayette Youth Advisory Committee, Lafayette’s Choice was first introduced to City Council on September 5.

“It’s our health,” said Adriana Iturbe, a member of Lafayette Youth Advisory Committee. “So, we felt it was our responsibility to speak up and take action for ourselves and the other kids in Lafayette.”
The adopted ordinance is the sixth of its kind in the country and the first outside the state of California. It also marks the first youth-led sugary beverage campaign in the nation. The policy builds on Lafayette’s designation as a HEAL (Healthy Eating Active Living) Cities and Towns by increasing access to healthy foods in an effort to address childhood obesity.

“Sugary drinks are a major culprit contributing to obesity and chronic disease,” said Jeff Zayach, Boulder County Public Health executive director. “Efforts like this one help to reduce the amount of sugary drinks our children drink by providing parents with healthy options as the default.”

Sugary drinks are the number one source of added sugars in the American diet. Children who drink at least 1 sugary beverage a day are 55% more likely to be overweight or obese. Nearly 1 in 4 (22.7%) of Boulder County children aged 2-14 are overweight or obese, which is a 43% increase since 2003.

“Research has shown that people stick to healthy default beverage options about 66% of the time,” said Zayach. “This policy makes Lafayette a leader in supporting families in promoting the health of their children.“

“In my experience, children, including my younger siblings, don’t understand that decisions that they make now will affect them for the rest of their lives,” said Lafayette Youth Advisory Committee Member Alejandra Ramirez Zavala.  “This is why Lafayette’s Choice is so important.  It will help parents, and caregivers like myself, by providing easy access to healthy options.” 

The impact of sugary drink consumption on health is also an issue of equity; Latino children are disproportionally impacted. In Colorado, 19% of non-Hispanic white children consume 1 or more sugary drinks per day, while 30% of Latino children drink 1 or more sugar drinks per day. A significant reason for this disparity is targeted marketing that beverage companies use to market to kids, particularly children of color.

The Lafayette Youth Advisory Committee has worked to promote health since its inception in April 2006. It began contacting Lafayette restaurants about limiting the drinks listed on their kids’ menu in May 2017.

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