Making the healthy choice the easy choice for Vermont kids

Who We Are

We are a group of concerned Vermonters and organizations who are working to address Vermont’s obesity crisis, diet-related diseases, and create healthier food options for Vermont’s children. Our goals are to:


Increase Access To Healthy Food & Drinks

Ensuring access to healthy foods in restaurant kids meals and providing healthy local foods to Vermonters in need.


Reduce The Use of Unhealthy Food & Drinks

The coalition is working to change the norms in our society that have contributed to the obesity crisis in Vermont.


Increase Access To Physical Activities

We’re working to provide easy and affordable options for Vermonters of all ages to be active and healthy.

Facts About Diet-Related Diseases

Vermont is plagued with chronic diseases
caused by poor nutrition and a lack of physical activity

  • Obesity affects a quarter of Vermont adults and over 60% are overweight or obese.
  •  According to the State of Obesity Report, the obesity rate of adults in Vermont has been steadily climbing from 10% in 1990 to 27.6% currently. Read the Diet-Related Diseases White paper.
  • 29% of Vermont youth 4 are overweight or obese.
  • A new body mass index study of 1 st , 3 rd and 5 th graders in Franklin and Grand Isle counties by RiseVT found 41% of youth were overweight or obese.
  • An alarming 14.1% of 2- to 4-year-olds in the WIC program and 12.4% of high school students inVermont are obese.
  • There are more than three times as many overweight children and adolescents in the U.S. than there were in 1980.
  • Health care costs will only escalate if nothing is done as obese children are at least twice as likely as non-obese children to become obese adults.
  • A 2018 study in the New England Journal of Medicine notes the majority of today’s toddlers will be obese by the age of 25. Read the Diet-Related Diseases White paper.
  • The Vermont Department of Health’s number one goal under its State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) is reducing the prevalence of obesity and tobacco use.
  • Poor diet and lack of physical activity are two of the three unhealthy behaviors identified by VDH in its 3-4-50 campaign to reduce chronic diseases and health care costs in Vermont. These, along with tobacco use, lead to cancer, heart disease and stroke, Type 2 diabetes and lung disease, and result in more than 50% of deaths in Vermont.
  • These are costly, preventable diseases. Chronic diseases affect the quality of life for Vermonters and the state’s economic future. Medical costs related to asthma, cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease have continually increased from $1.52 billion in 2010 to $2,042,000,000 in 2015.
  • Costs related to chronic diseases are expected to continue on this path, increasing by 75 percent from 2010 to 2020.
  • Vermont’s current 38,031 cases of heart disease are expected to grow to 190,617 and its current 10,273 cases of obesity-related cancer are expected to grow to 27,751 by 2030 if Vermont continues on its current path. Read the Diet-Related Diseases White paper.
  • Sugary drinks provide the largest source of daily calories in the diets of American children ages two to 18. In fact, each extra serving of a sugar-sweetened beverage consumed a day increases a child’s chance of becoming obese by 60 percent.
  • Sugary drinks, unlike junk foods which may contribute some nutrition to the diet, are just “empty” calories. Consumption is directly linked to expensive, chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. People who drink sugary drinks regularly, one to two cans a day or more, have a 26% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who rarely have such drinks.
  • Drinking just one sugary drink a day increases a man’s risk of having a heart attack or dying from a heart attack by 20%.
  • Despite the health risks associated with soda and other sugary drink consumption, the majority (74%) of the top restaurant chains’ default beverage with a kids’ meal is a sugary drink, which influences the eating patterns and establish norms for the 2-5 year-olds who eat kids’ meals. Read the Diet-Related Diseases White paper.
Scope of the solution

The Scope Of The Solution Must Be Equivalent To The Scope Of The Problem

The problem of chronic diseases caused by poor nutrition and lack of physical activity were caused by many factors, and, like Vermont’s effective Tobacco Control Program, it will take a comprehensive approach to address the problem and change norms.

That program, which addresses a public health threat in communities, schools, and media, and focuses on both prevention and cessation, saved Vermont $1.43 billion in what it would have otherwise spent treating tobacco-caused diseases. Vermont should take the same approach to preventing chronic diseases caused by poor nutrition and lack of physical activity.

Education alone is not the answer:
Education is one of the least effective ways to solve a public health problem.
Changing the context by making the healthy choice the easy choice is one of the most impactful. This means passing policy efforts that help make
individuals’ default choice the healthy one.  Read the Diet-Related Diseases White paper.

What can be done

The following are among the public health policies that Vermont must address to reduce diet-related

  • Restaurant Kids Meals — Ensuring all restaurant meals sold to children meet nutrition standards and removing sugary drinks from all restaurant children’s meals.
    • Americans now spend more of their food budget on foods prepared away from home than on foods at home. Children consume roughly 25% of their calories from eating out, and about 42% of children aged two to nine eat fast food on a given day.
  • Implementing an excise tax on sugary beverages — public health experts predict these taxes have the potential to be one of the most effective policy strategies to achieve health equity.
    • Taxes in Berkeley and Mexico have lowered consumption of sugary drinks while increasing the volume of healthy drinks purchased.
    • Revenue estimates for a 2 cent/oz tax in Vermont are around $30 million conservatively which could be used for programs to increase access to nutritious foods and opportunities for exercise.
  • Funding for Obesity Prevention – for comprehensive efforts similar to Vermont’s Tobacco Control Program that would address obesity and diet-related diseases in schools, communities and media to promote healthy eating and active living and enable Vermonter to more easily make the healthy choice the easy choice.
    • There is a great return on investment concerning prevention spending.
    • Independent evaluation of Vermont’s Tobacco Control Program found that with the $72 million the state invested in tobacco control between 2001-2014, it resulted in an estimated $1.43 billion savings in overall smoking-related health care costs (including $586 million in Medicaid costs).  Read the Diet-Related Diseases White paper

Coalition Supporters

Click the links below to see the Vermont organizations and restaurants who support our efforts to improve nutrition standards for kids meals offered in Vermont restaurants.

Vermont Restaurant Supporters

Amy’s Bakery Arts Cafe, Brattleboro
B. Good, Burlington
The Diner, Middlebury
Down Home Kitchen, Montpelier
Golden Stage Inn, Proctorsville
Green Mountain Café, St. Albans
Kelvan’s, Rutland
The Kingdom Taproom, St. Johnsbury
Kipling’s Restaurant, Brattleboro
Lago Trattoria, Newport
Little Harry’s, Rutland
The Mad Taco, Waitsfield
Maple Valley Café, Plainfield
Michael’s on the Hill, Waterbury Center
Middlebury Market and
Sama’s Café, Middlebury
New Moon Café, Burlington
Noonie’s Deli, Middlebury
The North Branch Cafe, Montpelier
Penny Cluse, Burlington
Philamena’s, Montpelier
Pie in the Sky, St. Albans
The Quarry, Barre
Restless Rooster Café, Brattleboro
Rutland Restaurant, Rutland
Skinny Pancake, Burlington
and Montpelier
T.J. Buckley’s, Brattleboro
Three Mountain Café, Waitsfield
Tulip Café, Brattleboro
Whetstone Station Restaurant, Brattleboro
Zabby and Elf’s Stone Soup, Burlington

Organizational Supporters

Alliance for a Healthier Vermont

American Academy of Pediatrics VT Chapter

American Cancer Society, Cancer Action Network

American College of Cardiology, VT Chapter

American Heart Association

American Nurses Association – Vermont (ANA-VT)

Artemis Fitness – South Burlington

Biologic Healthcare, Brattleboro

Brattleboro Food Coop

Brattleboro Memorial Hospital Community Health Team

Brattleboro Memorial Hospital

Capstone Community Action Child Care Food Program

Cardiovascular Research Institute

Champlain Valley Area Health Education Center, St. Albans

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center

David Stanley Family Dentistry, St. Albans

Dentist Grace Branon, St. Albans

Fit and Health Coalition of Caledonia and Southern Essex

Flavor Plate, South Burlington

Food Connects, Brattleboro

Full Sun Company, Middlebury

Hunger Mountain Food Coop, Montpelier

Island Pond Dental Clinic

Middlebury Natural Foods Coop

Middlebury Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine

Mocha Joes, Inc., Brattleboro

Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center, Windsor

Mt. Mansfield Dentists, Waterbury

Natural Provisions, St. Johnsbury

Norris Cotton Cancer Center

North Country Hospital, Newport

North Country Pediatrics, Newport

Northeast Kingdom Community Action

Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital

Northern Counties Health Care, St. Johnsbury

Northwestern Medical Center

Nutrition Education Services, Elizabeth Harrison, CCN, Townshend

Nutty Steph’s, Inc., Middlesex

Pete’s Greens of Vermont, Waterbury and Craftsbury

Plainfield Health Center

Porter Medical Center

Rainbow Pediatrics, Middlebury

Reach for the Stars

Rutland Area Food Coop

Rutland Community Cupboard

Rutland Free Clinic

Rutland Regional Medical Center

Society of Health and Physical Educators of Vermont (SHAPE-VT)

Southeastern Vermont Community Action

Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, Bennington

Spice ‘N Nice Natural Foods, Bennington

Three Moons Wellness Center, Waitsfield

University of Vermont Cancer Center

University of Vermont Medical Center

Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems

Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility

Vermont Community Garden Network, Burlington

Vermont Farmers Market Education Center, Inc., Rutland

Vermont Low Income Advocacy Council

Vermont NEA

Vermont Public Health Association

Vermont State Dental Society

Whole Health Nutrition, Winooski

Williston Chiropractic & Sports Medicine

Woodmen Financial Services

Voices For Healthy Choices

Kids Meals At Restaurants Should Be Good For Kids

As busy American families spend more of their food budgets at restaurants, kids menus lack nutrition standards. They’re packed with calories, salt and fat. Kids consume roughly 25% of their calories from eating out, and they eat almost twice as many calories there. We’re trying to ensure that all restaurant kids meals marketed to children in Vermont meet healthy nutrition standards.

The Problem

Americans now spend more of their food budget on foods prepared away from home than on foods at home.

Eating Out

Children consume roughly 25% of their calories from eating out, and eat almost twice as many calories when they eat at a restaurant as they do when they eat at home.

Obesity Risk

For each additional serving of soda or juice drink a child consumes per day, the child’s chance of becoming overweight increases by 60%.

Over 60% of Vermont adults and 29% of Vermont youth are overweight or obese; and obese children are at least twice as likely as non-obese children to become obese adults.

The Cost Of Obesity In Vermont

Obese children and adults are at greater risk for numerous adverse health consequences. The estimated annual obesity-related medical costs for the state of Vermont are $202 million, almost half of which are attributed to Medicare ($41 million) and Medicaid ($57 million).

Voices For Healthy Choices

What We Can Do

Let’s ensure all restaurant kids meals marketed to children meet nutrition standards, and remove sugary drinks as a menu option for kids.

Without policy efforts to address poor nutrition and lack of physical activity, chronic diseases and their costs will continue to skyrocket. The rates of Vermonters at an unhealthy weight is taking a toll on our health care system. Prevention is critical and science shows that education alone is not enough. State leaders must address the crisis through policy efforts that impact all generations of Vermonters.

Watch the videos at left to meet some of our supporters.

Making the Healthy Choice The Easy Choice

Choosing what’s best for us isn’t always easy. And that’s especially true for kids (as any parent can tell you!). When eating out, it’s especially hard for parents to find healthy options for their kids.

We’re working with restaurants to offer healthier options on Vermont kid’s menus, especially with regard to sugary drinks. Why push soda on kids when they’re so young? Let’s make the healthy choice the easy choice by offering better options.

Healthy Drinks & Healthy Meals

Why support legislation ensuring restaurant kids’ meals are healthy, including default healthy drinks?

We are asking Vermont legislators to support healthy kids’ meals in restaurants by having healthy drinks be the default choice in kids’ meals and ensuring restaurant kids meals marketed to children meet healthy nutrition standards. Read more here.

Healthy Choices Resources

Are you a restaurant owner/chef interested in offering healthy kids’ meals in your restaurant? Are you a parent who would like new ideas for healthy recipes to make for your kids? We have many tools and resources available to help anyone who wants to help make the healthy choice the easy choice for Vermont children.

Restaurant Toolkit For Nutrition Standards

Includes nutrition standards, nutrition calculators, how to calculate sugar and fat content and recipe modification and meal preparation tips. Download the toolkit.

Healthy Recipes For Restaurant Children's Meals

Download the “Serving Kids Better” recipe guide here – which includes a variety of recipes for entrees, sides, drinks and combo options.

Download the recipes produced by Vermont restaurants here.