New study suggests limited implementation of California’s Healthy Default Beverage law for children’s meals sold online

Jan 28, 2022

A new study from University of California researchers suggests that most fast food restaurants in low-income neighborhoods in California are not offering beverages online in a way that is consistent with the state's healthy beverage law for children's meals sold on the restaurant's website and popular online ordering platforms like DoorDash, GrubHub, and UberEats. California's Healthy-By-Default Beverage law requires restaurants to offer only plain or sparkling water with no added sweeteners, unflavored milk or unflavored non-dairy milk as the default beverage in children's meals. The law also requires that menus, menu boards and advertisements for children's meals include only approved default options. Researchers found that less than six percent of the observations they made on the online ordering platforms of 245 fast food restaurants across low-income California neighborhoods were offering children's meal beverages that were consistent with the Healthy-By-Default Beverage law in its most restrictive interpretation. This is cause for concern as online ordering platforms are gaining popularity. The study was published online in the journal Public Health Nutrition by Nutrition Policy Institute researchers Hannah Thompson, Anna Martin, Ron Strochlic, Sonali Singh, and Gail Woodward Lopez as part of the NPI CalFresh Healthy Living evaluation.