Got Milk (or Water)?

California Poised to Become First State in Nation to Make Healthy Beverages the Default Drink Option in All Restaurant Kids’ Meals

August 9, 2018


2018 HDYMU Cover

Sacramento, Calif. – New ACS CAN Report Spotlights Role Nutrition Plays in Cancer Fight.

A new report that grades states based on how well they’re enacting cancer-fighting policies was released by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) today, August 9, 2018, just as the California State Assembly is poised/voted on a landmark bill that leverages good nutrition as a new way to prevent major health issues.


Senate Bill 1192 has cleared every hurdle but the Assembly floor and a final vote could happen by next week. If the bill passes and is signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, it will be the first statewide law in the country to mandate milk or water as the default drink option in kids’ meals.


Currently, most restaurant kids’ meals include a sugary beverage that contains more than the weekly recommended amount of sugary drinks for children. With the American Cancer Society findings now showing nearly 20 percent of all cancers are linked to weight, it is important that good nutrition starts early—and California is leading the way in showing how legislation can get kids on a healthy path that prevents cancer later in life.


“Approximately 7 in 10 adults and 1 in 3 youths in this country are overweight or obese – more than double the rate from just 20 years ago,” said ACS CAN California Legislative Director Autumn Ogden-Smith. “Children and teens who are overweight or obese are likely to remain so as adults, increasing their lifelong risk for harmful and costly diseases, including many forms of cancer.”


SB 1192 is an example of a new focus in ACS CAN’s How Do You Measure Up?: A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality. With 13 different cancers now linked to being overweight or obese, ACS CAN is working to enact policies that promote healthy eating and active living environments. 


“Customers can still explicitly ask to replace the healthy drink with a sugary beverage at no cost, but the default beverage offered in a children’s meal must be a healthful option,” said Kris Lev-Twombly, executive director of the California State Alliance of YMCAs, which is also pushing the bill. “Sugary drinks are a top source of calories in kids’ diets and typically don’t provide any positive nutritional value. Drinking just one sugary drink a day increases a child’s likelihood of being overweight by 55 percent.”


The ACS CAN report grades states in nine specific areas of public policy that can help fight cancer. California meets 7 out of 9 areas thanks to a slate of historic bills that recently raised the tobacco sales age to 21, regulated e-cigarettes and ensured all K-12 schools are tobacco-free. Voters also approved a tobacco tax increase in 2016. With California getting high marks in most of the report’s cancer-fighting policy categories, ACS CAN is now focused on enacting policies to create environments that lower cancer risks through healthy eating and active living.


Passing and implementing the policy recommendations in the report would not only save lives in California, but also save millions in long-term health care costs.


To view the complete report and details on California’s grades, visit .


ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem.  ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit



Stephanie Winn

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

Cell:  916 802-4033

[email protected]


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