In an effort to combat childhood obesity, Baltimore has become the first major U.S. city to ban soda and sugary drinks from kids’ menus in restaurants. The Baltimore City Healthy Kids Meals Bill was signed by Mayor Catherine Pugh in April and went into effect in mid-July. Menus aimed at children in the city can now only include water, non-sweetened flavored or sparkling water, milk, or 100 percent fruit juice, The Baltimore Sun reports.
Unlike the short-lived New York City soda ban, this is not a true prohibition; children will still be able to order sodas or sweetened beverages if an adult orders for them. Restaurants that don’t comply with the new law could be assessed a $100 fine.
In a statement, Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen explained the change, saying, “Taking out empty calories from sugary drinks is a powerful lifestyle change we can make to help our children to get and stay healthy. This law will help families make the healthy choice the easy choice.”
The CDC reports that obesity affects 13.7 million children and adolescents ages 2 to 19 in the United States. In Baltimore, the city’s health department states that roughly one-third of school-aged children are overweight or obese, and that about 25 percent of Baltimore children drink at least one soda per day. According to the city, drinking even one sugar-sweetened beverage daily “increases a child’s odds of becoming obese by 60 percent.”
However, the change faced opposition from the restaurant industry. Melvin R. Thompson, senior vice president of government affairs and public policy for the Restaurant Association of Maryland, said in a statement, “The increased cost could cause some restaurants to either increase the price of children's meals or sell beverages separately.”
This move comes on the heels of similar laws geared toward healthier eating habits for children. Bans on sugary drinks on kids’ menus have been enacted in seven California cities as well as Lafayette, Colorado. However, a similar bill in New Hampshire failed to pass in March, The Associated Press reported.
You may want to brush up on your nutrition knowledge, because even supposedly healthy drinks may be full of sugar. To help keep your child’s food habits heading in the right direction, here are some fast-food kids’ meals that are actually healthy.