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Denver City Council bans sugary drinks from restaurants’ kids meal menus

The Denver City Council on Tuesday approved a new law requiring restaurants that sell combo meals for children to list only milk, water or milk substitutes like almond milk as the default drink options in those meals.

Sweet beverages like soda, juice and flavored milk can still be provided by request, but by July 1, 2025, every restaurant in Denver — from fast food chains to independent diners — will have to adjust their menus to remove those as listed options for kids meals if they offer them.

The legislation zeroes in on curbing the health risks of sugary drinks, Councilman Chris Hinds, one of the bill’s sponsors, said in brief comments ahead of Tuesday’s vote. The ordinance passes unanimously as part of the council’s consent agenda.

Hinds pushed back on the notion that measure takes away choices from consumers.

“The idea here is to nudge kids into doing the right thing, to nudge parents into helping kids to do the right thing,” he said. “At the end of the day, if a parent wants to give their kids soda, orange juice or flavored milk they will be able to do that.”

Denver joins metro-area cities Lafayette, Longmont and Golden in having ordinances governing drink options for kids. The states of California, Delaware and Hawaii also have similar laws.

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