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."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 33068

Reported Deaths: 2068
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9524558
Lake3494175
Cass15897
Allen141966
St. Joseph122134
Hendricks114268
Hamilton113292
Elkhart110128
Johnson1092106
Madison58459
Porter50522
Bartholomew49034
Clark47941
LaPorte42022
Tippecanoe3823
Howard37824
Delaware37636
Jackson3721
Shelby36822
Hancock32727
Floyd31739
Boone30535
Morgan27724
Vanderburgh2592
Montgomery23417
White2308
Decatur22431
Clinton2221
Noble20421
Grant19721
Dubois1903
Harrison18921
Henry16910
Greene16824
Monroe16512
Warrick16528
Dearborn16521
Vigo1538
Lawrence15223
Miami1401
Putnam1357
Jennings1294
Orange12422
Scott1203
Ripley1106
Franklin1098
Kosciusko1011
Carroll933
Daviess8416
Steuben812
Marshall801
Newton7610
Wayne756
Fayette747
Wabash742
LaGrange682
Jasper661
Washington511
Jay490
Fulton471
Clay461
Rush452
Randolph453
Jefferson431
Pulaski410
Whitley383
Owen351
Sullivan341
DeKalb331
Brown331
Starke323
Perry280
Wells270
Benton260
Huntington262
Knox250
Tipton241
Crawford230
Blackford222
Parke190
Spencer191
Switzerland190
Fountain182
Posey160
Gibson142
Adams131
Ohio130
Warren121
Vermillion100
Martin90
Union80
Pike60
Unassigned0161

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 33915

Reported Deaths: 2098
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin5566253
Cuyahoga4211226
Marion264225
Hamilton2555135
Lucas2178240
Pickaway204836
Mahoning1397173
Summit1335172
Butler84728
Stark70591
Columbiana68451
Lorain66759
Montgomery63717
Trumbull55147
Belmont41212
Miami35230
Warren35119
Tuscarawas3373
Ashtabula32434
Portage31857
Medina31322
Delaware31013
Lake29012
Wood28246
Geauga27231
Wayne26049
Fairfield2515
Clark2345
Licking22210
Allen20632
Clermont2025
Mercer2016
Richland1933
Erie1656
Darke16221
Madison1487
Washington11819
Crawford1103
Morrow1041
Greene1015
Ottawa9312
Putnam8814
Monroe7512
Sandusky7211
Hocking694
Ross672
Jefferson662
Auglaize653
Huron561
Williams511
Hancock512
Union491
Muskingum480
Clinton430
Hardin420
Shelby403
Fayette390
Wyandot382
Logan370
Fulton370
Coshocton370
Guernsey340
Defiance332
Preble331
Carroll303
Lawrence290
Holmes291
Brown281
Champaign271
Knox231
Highland221
Seneca202
Vinton192
Ashland190
Athens181
Perry181
Henry150
Scioto150
Jackson130
Paulding130
Harrison100
Adams81
Gallia71
Van Wert60
Pike60
Meigs60
Noble50
Morgan50
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Few Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 66°
Angola
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 64°
Huntington
Broken Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 66°
Decatur
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 64°
Van Wert
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 64°
Scattered Showers & Storms Friday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events