Views expressed in guest columns are the author’s own.
Sona Chaudhary hit on a lot of key points in her column “Banning sugary drinks on kids menus won’t help them make healthy choices.” Chaudhary clearly understands the dangers of sugary drink consumption and the importance of teaching healthy drinking habits. Research shows sugary drinks are a key contributor to chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease — and that children today are consuming sugar in amounts far greater than recommended.
Our statewide coalition, Sugar Free Kids Maryland, supports legislation to improve the drinks on kids menus, because it directly addresses this problem and will help the children of Baltimore. Children who drink healthy beverages will become adults who do the same. They will have better opportunities to live longer, healthier lives.
This is a tangible step to help develop a greater culture of health for Baltimore’s children. According to a 2011 Zagat survey, families in the Baltimore-D.C. area eat out an average of 2.6 times a week. This regulation will be an effective way of instilling healthier habits.
We are not alone in supporting this change. This bill is supported by the Baltimore City Health Department, parents, faith leaders and others who know the importance of starting healthy choices from an early age. The Judiciary and Legislative Investigations Committee of the Baltimore City Council unanimously passed the bill, which will go to the full council for a vote on Feb. 26. (4)
We agree with Chaudhary that the magnitude of this problem calls for large-scale solutions. Our coalition and partners played a large part in the success of the Howard County campaign, which she refers to as a successful tactic. Policy changes were an important component of that campaign.
We know from research that policy changes play a significant role in improving public health. This solution can go a long way toward reducing the excessive consumption of sugary drinks and improving Baltimore’s overall health in the future.
Shawn McIntosh is the executive director of Sugar Free Kids Maryland. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.