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You soon won’t find sugary drinks on kid’s menus in Baltimore, anymore.
The Baltimore City Council on March 12, 2018, approved a bill that requires restaurants to remove sugary drinks from their kid’s menus, making it the largest American city to pass such legislation.
UPDATE: Mayor Catherine Pugh gave the bill a final signature on April 19, 2018.
The default drink on kid’s menus now will be water, milk, 100% fruit juice, sparkling water, and flavored water without added sweeteners.
Families can order other drinks upon request.
“The bill is designed to address overconsumption of sugary drinks as a key factor in high rates of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay. One in four children in Baltimore drinks at least one soda each day,” said Shawn McIntosh, executive director of Sugar Free Kids Maryland, a coalition representing hundreds of health, youth, faith, education, professional and labor organizations.
McIntosh said Baltimore families too often had to face tough choices on kid’s menus.
“We strongly believe this bill will help address the crisis facing Baltimore’s youngest residents with one in three school-aged Baltimore children unable to maintain a healthy weight, often leading to chronic disease,” he said.
How the Kid’s Menu Bill Affects Latinos
Latino infants are twice as likely to be fed sugary drinks than their non-Latino peers. They are also more likely to have had a sugary drink by age 2 (74%) than their white peers (45%), according to a Salud America! research review.
Latino kids are also less likely to drink plain water than their peers.
“This is an especially alarming problem in our low-income neighborhoods, where families consume two and a half more sugary drinks than higher-income families,” wrote Pastor Kevin A. Slayton Sr. in a recent op-ed in the Baltimore Sun. “In communities like mine, we are fighting a lack of awareness about healthy eating and drinking and big beverage industries that are bombarding families with cheap, innutritious, sugar-laden drinks as go-to options for their kids.”
Removing sugary drinks from kid’s menus can help reduce consumption among Latinos and other minority neighborhoods.
Some restaurants—McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Dairy Queen, Burger King, IHOP and Applebee’s—have voluntarily removed sugary drinks from kid’s menus.
“When we create a community that supports these kinds of choices, we will be able to see dramatic drops in chronic disease,” Slayton Sr. said. “It will not only help our children become healthier now, but also help them develop habits that reinforce a lifetime of good health.”
What Can You Do?
Besides Baltimore, many more cities are removing sugary drinks from kid’s menus.
For example, youth led the charge in Lafayette, Colo. (16% Latino).
The youth were fed up with the effect of sugary drinks on people’s health. So they pushed city leaders for change. They scored a big victory in October 2017 when the Lafayette City Council voted 5-1 for an ordinance to require all local restaurants to offer only milk and water with kids’ meals.
Can your city create a measure like this?
See what other cities and schools are doing to give kids healthier drink options!