Coming Soon to Baltimore Restaurants: Healthier Kids

Last week, Mayor Catherine Pugh signed legislation that will create healthier drink options for Baltimore City families ordering kids’ meals.  Baltimore becomes the largest American city – and first on the east coast – to pass this measure.

hero_image_alt_text===Mayor Pugh with advocates at bill signing

The Baltimore City Healthy Kids’ Meal Bill (17-0152) ensures that water, milk, 100% fruit juice, sparkling water and flavored water without added sweeteners will become the default drink options for all restaurants kids’ meals in the city of Baltimore. Families will be able to order other drinks upon request.

Large restaurant chains such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Dairy Queen, Burger King, IHOP, and Applebee’s have chosen to remove sugary drinks from their kids’ menus since 2015.

The bill helps address the overconsumption of sugary drinks, 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. Sugary drinks are often the default options accompanying kids’ meals in restaurants, and Baltimore families too often end up with these choices as they eat out on an average of 2.6 times per week.

Improving the nutritional quality of beverages with restaurant children's meals will help to cultivate lifelong healthy eating behaviors among Baltimore's children. Thank Mayor Pugh and City Council President Jack Young for prioritizing Baltimore's children today!

Mayor Pugh signing the Baltimore Kids' Meals bill

The bill was sponsored and championed by City Councilmember Brandon Scott. “I am proud that Baltimore has now become a leader in creating a healthier environment for our children,” said Scott. “Kids throughout our city are suffering from type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases that are brought on by the overconsumption of sugary drinks. This legislation will alleviate this problem and help build healthier drinking habits for everyone in the city.”

The Baltimore City Health Department was also a major supporter of the bill. “I am so proud to work for a Mayor who champions progressive public health policy that will improve health and save lives," said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. "By changing the default option in kids' meals, Baltimore is making the healthy choice the easy choice as we reduce the rate of childhood obesity.”

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