New bill aims to restrict sugary drinks in child care facilities - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

New bill aims to restrict sugary drinks in child care facilities

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

A bill being considered would put limits on sugar-sweetened drinks and other beverages served in Hawaii's child care facilities.

Supporters say HB1674 is consistent with other restrictions already in place for children older than preschool age.

"It just allows us to address the public health issues related to obesity, diabetes, and all those things we know are chronic issues within our older populations," said state Rep. Della Au Belatti, chairwoman of the House Health Committee.

Under the measure, child care facilities would not be allowed to serve sugar-sweetened beverages to keiki. Natural fruit or vegetable juice would also be prohibited for children under the age of 1. Children older than 1 would be limited to four ounces of natural fruit or vegetable juice per day.

Kamaaina Kids vice president Buffy Owens said the organization already follows most of the restrictions for preschoolers under the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Program.

"There was one segment in there about fruit juice where they're restricting the amount of fruit juice which is less than what USDA recommends," Owens said. "However, you can also get your fruit component using whole fruits or vegetables. It doesn't always have to be juice."

Belatti is anticipating amendments to the bill.

"I think we want to have a bill that strikes a good balance," she said.

State Sen. Sam Slom opposes the proposed restrictions.

"I'm not your guy when you talk about restrictions or mandates or forcing people to do things. We've become the nanny state in so many different areas," said the Senate minority leader.

Slom said everyone should be concerned about nutrition, but he doesn't believe that it's the state's job to create new restrictions for lifestyle changes.

"Isn't that the job of the parents? Isn't that the job of adults and all of that, yet we've allowed the state to force people to do other things?" Slom said.

Under the bill, there would be exemptions for medical reasons. Compliance would be checked through inspections, but Belatti said it would be a self-enforcing type of law.

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