[Ed. – Somewhere former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is beaming.]
Restaurants in Baltimore are now officially barred from including sodas and other sugary drinks on kids’ menus, according to a city ordinance that went into effect Wednesday.
Baltimore is now the biggest U.S. city and the first on the East Coast to pass this kind of measure, said Shawn McIntosh, director of the Maryland chapter of the Sugar Free Kids advocacy group. Seven California cities and Lafayette, Colorado, have enacted similar ordinances, according to health officials.
Milk, 100 percent fruit juices, water, and flavored or sparkling water without added sweeteners must now be the default beverages for kids’ meals at Baltimore eateries. Mayor Catherine Pugh signed the legislation earlier this year.
The ordinance is intended to stop youngsters’ overconsumption of sugary drinks, perceived as a key factor in high rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes.
“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,” Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen said in a statement.