In 2015, the city of Davis, California, enacted a landmark ordinance that replaced sugary beverages with water or milk as the default beverage for kids meals sold by restaurants.
Building on the Davis victory and equipped with a new model policy from ChangeLab Solutions, other localities in the state quickly passed their own ordinances. And in 2018, California became the first state to pass a law that made water or milk the drink automatically offered by restaurants for all kids combo meals that include a beverage.
For more than 20 years, public health advocates have pursued policy changes to reduce sugary drink consumption. Yet despite the alarming rise of both obesity and diabetes nationwide, especially among children, these efforts have faced powerful — and often insurmountable — opposition from the beverage industry.
California’s Healthy by Default Kids Meal Beverages Act, which took effect January 1, 2019, was a rare takedown of Big Soda. And it happened with virtually no opposition.