Restricting sugary beverages from being served to young children at state funded childcare facilities. That's the latest mission of Connecticut lawmakers.
The research is clear that added sugar in drinks can have links to childhood obesity. But now the question is whether state government should weigh in on this issue on weight and what kids drink.
"I think we should be concerned about children and obesity. I'm always a little bit lukewarm about whether we should legislate how much sugar should be consumed or not consumed,” Democratic State Senator Gary Winfield said. “But, if you’re asking me if I'm going to vote for the bill the answer would be yes."
The bill was taken up by the education committee on Monday. The bill would mandate state funded childcare centers provide juice that is 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice with no added sugar to children nine months or older. It does not apply to milk or yogurt beverages.
Mandating what a child eats or drinks is not without controversy, but it appears to gaining support on both sides of the aisle.
“When we’re talking about infants what goes into their mouths, what they eat and what they drink will have an effect on them over the course of their life and we want them to get a good healthy start,” Republican State Senator Toni Boucher said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has been clear on its suggested guidelines for young children. They are recommending water, milk or 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice. Something that many private daycare facilities have long been following such as The Learning Experience in Cromwell.
"We don't serve juice to anyone under the age of one,” Shital Patel, who is the owner of The Learning Experience, said. “We only have it on our menu once or twice a week and it's only 100 percent juice.”
Patel said she thinks this might inspire parents at home.
"I believe it would help us in the childcare world, but it would be helpful to families at home as well,” Patel said. “Hopefully, some of it will trickle back home and they realize the importance of not serving juice at such a young age and in such big quantities."
The bill would also stipulate that children get 20 minutes of continuous exercise in after care programs and that kids under 2 years old not use TV’s, computers or electronic devices. All this is in an effort to keep kids moving and combat childhood obesity.
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