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California Legislation Promotes Nutrition And Healthier Options

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today signed SB 1420 by Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), which makes California the first state in the nation to have its restaurant chains with 20 or more locations statewide post calorie information on menus and indoor menu boards for consumers.

"This legislation will help Californians make more informed, healthier choices by making calorie information easily accessible at thousands of restaurants throughout our state," Governor Schwarzenegger said. "By being the first state to provide this information to consumers, California is continuing to lead the nation with programs and policies that promote health and nutrition."

SB 1420 requires restaurant chains with 20 or more locations to post calorie information on their menus and indoor menu boards by January 1, 2011. And beginning July 1, 2009, brochures containing either calorie content information or other nutritional information, such as grams of saturated fat, grams of carbohydrates and milligrams of sodium, will be at the point of sale and drive-thrus for consumers. The legislation preempts local ordinances in order to create a uniform statewide standard for displaying nutritional information instead of a patchwork of local ordinances, although nothing in the bill would prevent a restaurant from providing additional information if they so choose.

The Governor also signed SB 441 by Tom Torlakson (D-Antioch), which requires each vendor who operates or maintains a vending machine on state property to satisfy the requirement that at least 35 percent of the food and at least one-third of the beverages offered in the vending machines meet accepted nutritional guidelines by January 1, 2011.

The Governor's leadership has put in place some of the nation's most innovative and successful strategies to promote health and nutrition. The Governor has:

* Established the toughest school nutrition reforms in the nation, taking junk food and sugary sodas off our campuses.

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* Removed trans fats in school meals and phased out the use of trans fats in all California restaurants beginning in 2010 and from all baked goods by 2011.

* Invested millions of dollars in fresh fruits and vegetables in school meals.

* Adopted the first-ever physical education standards.

* Convened a Summit on Health, Nutrition and Obesity where leaders of public and private sector organizations made significant commitments to change core business practices to help achieve a healthier California.

* Reinvigorated the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, which focuses on rewarding positive leadership in implementing healthy living in youth.

* Proposed a comprehensive health care reform plan that emphasizes prevention and wellness.

According to the California Department of Public Health, Californians have gained 360 million pounds over the last decade. One in three children and one in four teens are overweight or at-risk. Second only to tobacco, obesity is a leading cause of preventable death among Californians and costs the state $28.5 billion in health care costs, lost productivity and workers' compensation.