Children’s fast food meals in New Orleans are getting a makeover for the new year. A city ordinance aimed at tackling childhood obesity stipulates that meals have to provide a healthy drink.
The Health Kids’ Meal Beverage Ordinance took effect on Jan. 1 and limits the type of beverages offered to kids. The only options are water, milk, and 100% fruit juices. Gone are the days when kids could choose soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks to accompany their meals.
The New Orleans Health Department helped draft the ordinance, which was passed last year, with the support of the American Heart Association.
“Introducing our kids to small steps towards healthier habits can be important for lifelong better health,” said the city’s health director, Dr. Jennifer Avegno. “This ordinance will help ensure healthy options are the default for kids.”
It will be up to the NOHD to enforce the rule by fielding 311 complaints against restaurants or conducting menu reviews for new restaurants. The first violation for an eatery will result in additional training, the second is a warning, and the third is a $200 fine.
Parents and children still have the option to order sugary drinks, such as soda, but not as part of a kids’ meal. Sugary beverages need to be ordered separately.