Baltimore became the first large city in the United States to ban sugary drinks from children’s menus after a new law took effect Thursday.
The Healthy Beverages for Children’s Meals law makes water, milk and fruit juice the default beverage options for children at city restaurants. Officials said in a statement the change is an effort to improve child health in a city where one of every three children are classified obese.
“The science is clear: 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,” said Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “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.”
Parents can still order a sugary drink for their child, but restaurants are required by the new law to offer an alternative or face a $100 fine.