Obesity

Baltimore Bans Soda in Kids’ Meals

A city ordinance that took effect this week forces restaurants to join the fight against childhood obesity.

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Joshua Resnick/Dreamstime.com

A new Baltimore ordinance aimed at fighting childhood obesity bans sugary drinks such as soda from kids' menus in city restaurants.

According to a press release from the Baltimore Health Department, "water, milk, and 100% fruit juice are now the default beverage options for all kid's meals." The ordinance, signed into law by Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh in April, took effect on Wednesday. Although some smaller cities have similar laws, Baltimore is believed to be the first major city in the United States to regulate the beverage options that restaurants offer kids.

"The science is clear," Baltimore Health Commissioner Leana Wen said in the press release. "One of the biggest contributors to childhood obesity is sugary drinks, and childhood obesity is a major risk factor for diabetes, heart disease, and early death." The health department says one in three school-aged children in Baltimore is overweight or obese.

"This law will help families make the healthy choice the easy choice," Wen said. The ordinance does not prohibit children from drinking sugar-sweetened beverages in restaurants. They can still get soda, but their parents might need to pay a little more, since the disfavored drinks won't be included in kids' meal deals.

Any restaurant that flouts the new law will face a $100 fine, the Associated Press reports. "Public policy that interferes with the minutiae of restaurant operations exacerbates the business challenges already facing Baltimore City restaurants," Melvin Thompson, senior vice president of government affairs and public policy at the Restaurant Association of Maryland, said in a statement to Reason. "We opposed this legislation because it unnecessarily interferes with how our industry packages, prices and sells meals."

Some public health experts say the ordinance does not go far enough. Claire Wang, an associate professor at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, notes that fruit juices, which the city says can still appear on kids' menus, can contain just as many calories as soda. While the law "is one step towards the right direction," Wang told NBC, "some juices, such as apple juice, in fact have been used as a sweetener, and it contains a lot of sugar, so it is still not recommended in large amounts for children."

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80 responses to “Baltimore Bans Soda in Kids’ Meals

  1. Sweet!

  2. Nutra Sweet!

  3. Is pure fruit juice not also a sugary drink?

    1. Oh, should have finished reading.

    2. The sugar is healthier because there are no bubbles in it… also something about corn syrup.

      1. And something about not being as affordable.

    3. I’m going to assume the packets for coffee and tea are still going to be sitting in the same place they always were.

      Also, do they not serve lemonade in Baltimore? Is it a juice or a sweetened soda beverage? Are kids allowed to sell it?

    4. Yes, but during a nice lunch with Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, the representatives of Ye Ole Fruit Juice Suppliers, Inc. convinced her that fruit juice also has vitamin C in it.

    5. Skim milk is also sugar water with some vitamins and minerals.

      1. Skim milk is also sugar water with some vitamins and minerals.

        “Sweet condensed milk, skim milk, beer, gatorade, mineral water… it’s all pretty much the same stuff. If it’s not melted butter or buttermilk, it’s not a beverage.”

        If I’m ever at your house for a social occasion, I’m fine with nothing to drink.

  4. Letting kids have sugar at all is child abuse. There ought to be a law that bans children from consuming sugar, that should quickly solve the obesity epidemic.

    1. Why not just ban fat people?

      1. Why not just ban children?

        1. Why not make No Fat Chicks billboards mandatory?

          1. “Fenders Will Drag”

      2. Ten years from now, when we will all have moved on from the horrible practice of microaggressing against healthy sized people, you will come back to this comment and feel deep shame.

        1. Schumer went in on Glamour for featuring her in their plus-size issue without her knowledge . The magazine listed her name, along with Adele, Melissa McCarthy and Ashley Graham as women who inspire them. Schumer took to Insta to let them know she wasn’t happy — since she wears a size 6 or 8.

          Please tell me this issue had 30% more pages than the regular issue.

          1. It was thicker.

            1. Or thiccer?

        2. If being fat isn’t undesirable, then why do we need a new word for it?

          1. Because of the historical use of that word to oppress, duh.

      3. The obvious solution is to tax excess body weight.

        And, in implementing this, think of the JOBS!

        1. Jobs wasn’t fat. You are thinking of Wozniak.

    2. Necessarily, the law must apply to ice-cream and if it means that ice-cream stands must shutter their doors, so be it.

      1. I swear to God if we end up with a government agency researching or working to develop a self-licking ice cream cone for legitimate, non-satirical reasons I might just have to stop using ‘purge it with fire’ metaphorically.

      2. I din’t see anything against milk shakes which is just sugar with sugar flavoring over mild while soda is sugar flavoring over water so not much different

    3. Just kill a kid’s parents if they weigh too much. Cast the kid out into the streets to fend for themselves. I’ve never seen an obese street urchin.

  5. I would order the kid a large soda just to be a jerk.

    1. There we go! Just because there is a kids menu does not mean kids can only eat things on the kids menu.

    2. Also, I see what you did there … better late than never!

      1. I didn’t, until you commented, you fountain of knowledge.

        1. Way to go, squirt.

    3. No one here is old enough to remember what a soda jerk is.

      1. Robert might be.

      2. Is that your ‘Fist of Etiquette’ you’re waving at the whippersnappers?

  6. As a science-based left-libertarian, I know that children are mature enough to make the decision to go on hormone therapy, but not mature enough to decide what to drink. I support this ban.

    1. *standing ovation*

    2. Brilliant.

  7. Some public health experts say the ordinance does not go far enough. Claire Wang, an associate professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, notes that fruit juices, which the city says can still appear on kids’ menus, can contain just as many calories as soda. While the law “is one step towards the right direction,” Wang told NBC, “some juices, such as apple juice, in fact have been used as a sweetener, and it contains a lot of sugar, so it is still not recommended in large amounts for children.”

    And by “not recommended”, we mean we’re working damn hard to have the government shoot you in the fucking face if we catch you giving your kid what we have decided is “too much” apple juice.

    1. Shooting in the face? Don’t be silly. Just a multiple tasering session.

  8. “Claire Wang, an associate professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, notes that fruit juices, which the city says can still appear on kids’ menus, can contain just as many calories as soda.”

    And don’t get me started on the kids’ menu milk, with all its saturated fat. The only acceptable course of action is to allow only water… laced with Mexican ephedrine. One fat kid is two too many!

    1. Better be bottled water. No, wait, that comes in plastic bottles! Just a glass. No ice! AND NO STRAW!

    1. According to AP, no “sweeteners”, so it’s not about the calories.

      Also, nothing saying restaurants have to have any minimum portion sizes on adult menus.

  9. Unitended consequence: An epidemic of childhood dehydration and heat stroke.

  10. So,another stupid twit or should I say (,censored).

  11. make the healthy choice the easy choice

    Every time I hear that phrase it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard. Fuck off, slaver!

    1. Fuck off, slaver!

      “If you don’t shut up, I’m going to make *that* the healthy choice *and* the easy choice.”

    2. Is there a training class for that kind of apparatchik to perfect arrogant condescension?

    3. Choices are a lot easier when you remove them. Double plus good, that.

  12. Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health

    Kind of an ironic name for the health school.

    1. Why? All of the mailmen I know are in absurdly good shape, from walking 30 miles a day.

      Then again, I only know actual letter carriers. I have no idea what sort of shape the folks who just sort mail are in.

  13. Last time I checked, juice was a “sugary drink.”

    1. I got better.

      1. You been juicing?

  14. Just serve carbonated apple and grape juices. Wait, that wouldn’t be 100% juice would it? What about juices made from concentrate?

    1. What about juices made from concentrate?

      They’re going to have to think about that one for a while.

    2. Carbonated juices can still be 100% juice. You make it from concentrate, so some of the water you add back in can be carbonated.

      In fact, you can have “100% juice” with all kinds of things added (from an FDA labeling perspective). If the juice concentrate calls for, say, 70 parts water to reconstitute, you can add 60 parts water, be sweeter than single-strength juice, dump in vitamins, minerals, flavors, etc., and still call it “100% juice”. I love this country!

  15. How does “because of childhood obesity” square with the fat acceptance movement?

    1. I don’t think the two movements coordinate with each other.

  16. This reeks of the busybodies at the Bloomberg (yes, THAT Bloomberg) School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins. Went to one of their talks for JHU grads several years ago during the Ebola freak out. The talk was actually quite good, but they spent an inordinate amount of time pestering the presenter on gun control questions (really just manifestos). While the presenter tried to refocus on Ebola, the Hopkins people just wanted to arrogantly smell their own farts. I couldn’t leave fast enough.

    1. I dated a girl who was a student a Bloomberg SPH a while back. She wasn’t so bad, but some of her friends from there were definitely more concerned about pushing a political agenda against evil corporations, who were always to blame for public health problems, than actually solving these problems.

      1. There are clearly a few sane students, but this particular gathering of grads was oozing with arrogance. They actually believe they direct public health policy for the whole country. So glad I escaped the DMV.

  17. Put the prisoners on bread and water! And 50 lashes for the scurvy dogs!

    1. The bread must be gluten free of course.

    2. Bread starts being converted into glucose within the mouth, so we should be safe and ban all precursors to sugar from kid’s meals as well.

      1. Of course?the 0 net carbon world.

  18. Anyway, it’s nice to see that Baltimore has run out of REAL problems to fix.

    1. Yep-lived there for 7 years, I guess so much has improved in the city since then that soda is now public enemy #1

  19. Can’t we just put all children in camps? Wouldn’t that just be easier and the more direct approach?

    1. I present for you: “The Public School System”

  20. Some public health experts

    How did they get the “expert” moniker?

    1. “Ex” is a has-been.

      “Spurt” is a drip under pressure.

  21. The science is clear but it doesn’t say anything like what Wen alleges.

    1. 100% fruit juice is a “sugary drink” every bit as hard on your insulin system as soda.
    2. The evidence in support of the claim that sugary drinks cause childhood obesity is astonishingly weak. While that claim sounds intuitively appealing, it just doesn’t show up in the data. Lack of exercise is far more relevant to childhood obesity.
    3. The evidence in support of childhood obesity causing everything else is… Okay, maybe. The evidence is still weaker than most people think but it does pass the threshold of statistical significance.

    1. But the science is clear that most Black, Hispanic, and Asian people are lactose intolerant. I’m fortunate as a 50+ Caucasian that I can consume dairy products ad infinitum with no trouble whatsoever. But did the “experts” even consider the effect of pushing dairy products on a population largely composed of these ethnic groups? And it’s well-established now that fruit juices really aren’t any better for you than soft drinks.

  22. “The science is clear,” Baltimore Health Commissioner Leana Wen said in the press release.

    “Fascists gonna fash”, she concluded.

    Some public health experts say the ordinance does not go far enough.

    “We really need to work on making it illegal for parents to feed their children any of this horrible ‘fast food’ crap at all, or actually, anything that we don’t approve of. And please forget that we had it completely wrong about ‘fat’ vs: ‘carbohydrates’ for decades. We definitely know what’s best for you now, and we’re going to make you feed your kids what we say is right.”

  23. Nothing in the !aryland constitution allows for government to ban anything.

    Even the Prohibitionists knew they needed a constituional amendment to ban nationwide alcohol consumption.

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