Baltimore bans sugary drinks from kids' menus

Baltimore became the largest city in the United States to ...

Posted: Jul 20, 2018 4:58 AM
Updated: Jul 20, 2018 4:58 AM

Baltimore became the largest city in the United States to bar soda and other sugary drinks from restaurants' kids' menus this week.

The Baltimore City Healthy Kids Meals Bill was signed by Mayor Catherine Pugh in April but went into effect Wednesday.

Restaurants may include water, milk and 100% fruit juice as part of their children's menus and kids' meals

Parents can choose to order soda and other sugary drinks for their children

Restaurants will be limited to offering children's meals with flat, sparkling or flavored water with no added sweeteners; milk or non-dairy alternatives; or 100% fruit juice. Parents can choose to order other drinks for their children, however. Baltimore's health department will enforce the law through its inspection process, and those restaurants found violating it could face a $100 fine.

"It's not a ban, because parents still have the option to choose something else," said Shawn McIntosh, executive director of Sugar Free Kids Maryland, a coalition that aims to prevent chronic illnesses in children and has worked to increase support around the policy with local lawmakers and the public. "They can ask for something else. It's just that the options that are listed on the menu are healthy options, so that what kids are confronted with are healthy options."

The health department will work with restaurants to help make the transition if they haven't already, said Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore's health commissioner.

"Passing a law that creates healthy environments is within everyone's best interests, and so there are no drawbacks to having healthy options as the default option," McIntosh said. "What parent doesn't want their child to drink healthy for the most part? When I was a kid, drinking soda was a treat. You didn't drink it on a regular basis. And our hope is actually that parents start thinking about how it really should just be a treat and can be a treat when they want it to be a treat. Not something that is always in their face."

Not everyone is happy with the law, and detractors argue that it may affect a restaurant's bottom line.

"The Restaurant Association of Maryland opposed this legislation," Melvin R. Thompson, the organization's senior vice president of government affairs and public policy, said in a statement. "Public policy that interferes with the minutiae of restaurant operations exacerbates the business challenges already facing City restaurants.

"Some quick-service/limited-service restaurants may be forced to use single-servings of water, milk or juice for children's meals, which often cost more per serving than fountain drinks," Thompson added. "The increased cost could cause some restaurants to either increase the price of children's meals or sell beverages separately. Such a change in the bundled price, or selling beverages separately, may reflect negatively on restaurants if customers perceive a decrease in the value of children's meal pricing."

But proponents of the new rule say it will help curb the growing number of obese children in the city. One in three school-age children in Baltimore is either overweight or obese, and one in four drinks at least one soda a day, according to Baltimore's health department. Just one sugary beverage per day can raise a child's risk of becoming obese by 60%, a 2001 Harvard study found.

"The number one killer of both men and women in Baltimore and around the country is heart disease," Wen said. "That's fueled by high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. I'm an emergency physician, and it used to be that I treated only adults with these problems. Now, I'm treating children who are 8 years old and weigh over 200 pounds. I see teens as young as 13 years old who have high blood pressure and adult-onset diabetes."

Seven cities in California and the county of Santa Clara, as well as Lafayette, Colorado, have instituted similar regulations, according to Baltimore officials. The department coordinated and collaborated with them to learn from their experiences, Wen said.

Other major cities like Philadelphia, Seattle and San Francisco have implemented additional taxes for sodas. A bill to place warning labels on sugary drinks in Baltimore failed two years ago.

"The bottom line about this legislation is that it is a win for public health," Wen said. "This is something that parents -- together with community members, with public health officials, with doctors, with pediatricians -- this is something that we have championed that's for the best interest and the public health of our children. And we're very glad that it's passed. And we know that this is something that will have impact for our children and for generations to come."

Lafayette
Clear
29° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 9°
Feels Like: 29°
Kokomo
Partly Cloudy
27° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 11°
Feels Like: 20°
Rensselaer
Clear
27° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 9°
Feels Like: 21°
Lafayette
Clear
29° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 9°
Feels Like: 29°
Danville
Clear
28° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 9°
Feels Like: 21°
Frankfort
Partly Cloudy
27° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 9°
Feels Like: 19°
Frankfort
Clear
27° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 9°
Feels Like: 19°
Monticello
Clear
26° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 10°
Feels Like: 21°
Monticello
Clear
26° wxIcon
Hi: 32° Lo: 11°
Feels Like: 21°
Logansport
Clear
27° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 11°
Feels Like: 21°
One of the coldest nights of the winter (so far) is ahead tonight.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 605426

Reported Deaths: 9642
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion836221331
Lake45189680
Allen32646547
Hamilton29240315
St. Joseph27260380
Elkhart24354344
Vanderburgh19292248
Tippecanoe17905133
Johnson14974293
Porter14707168
Hendricks14295248
Madison10909220
Vigo10688179
Clark10581139
Monroe9338110
Delaware9089134
LaPorte9007162
Howard8177143
Kosciusko803182
Warrick668798
Hancock6639104
Bartholomew6443100
Floyd6377109
Wayne6106161
Grant5965115
Dubois554079
Boone549467
Morgan535595
Henry505564
Marshall502684
Cass482663
Dearborn476245
Noble471257
Jackson421947
Shelby413881
Lawrence389179
Clinton372043
Gibson369159
DeKalb345964
Harrison345644
Montgomery343354
Knox334339
Miami319844
Steuben313045
Whitley304526
Wabash301447
Adams299635
Ripley297545
Putnam294149
Huntington290659
Jasper288134
White272242
Daviess266774
Jefferson262538
Decatur246583
Fayette246348
Greene239262
Posey238128
Wells234050
LaGrange227662
Scott223439
Clay221832
Randolph212848
Jennings197736
Sullivan191133
Spencer190121
Washington183722
Fountain183127
Starke174843
Jay167022
Owen163637
Fulton163130
Orange157234
Carroll156415
Rush154418
Perry152727
Vermillion148634
Franklin147833
Tipton131832
Parke13038
Pike116226
Blackford110922
Pulaski96837
Newton90721
Brown87534
Benton86510
Crawford7929
Martin73013
Warren6777
Switzerland6575
Union6267
Ohio4867
Unassigned0375

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events