Baltimore City Health Department, Councilman Mosby Announce Efforts to Educate Residents on the Health Dangers of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BALTIMORE, MD (January 11, 2015)– In an effort to reduce childhood obesity, Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen today joined Councilman Nick Mosby to announce a City Council bill that would require warning labels for sugar-sweetened beverages in advertisements, restaurant menus, and in any city store that sells those products. A sugar-sweetened beverage is any beverage that contains added caloric sweetener, including: soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, most juices, sweetened coffee drinks, sweetened teas, etc.

“The science is clear: The biggest contributor to childhood obesity is sugary drinks,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “Childhood obesity will lead to adult diseases that kill, and we must do everything we can to protect the health of our children. We must inform our residents about the danger of sugar-sweetened beverages.”

In Baltimore, one in three school-aged children is either overweight or obese. One in four of the city’s children drink one or more sodas every day. Research has shown that sugar-sweetened beverages promote weight gain and are the primary sources of added sugar and calories in children’s diets. Scientific studies also show that consumption of these beverages can lead to major preventable illnesses such as tooth decay, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, and obesity. In fact, drinking one sugar-sweetened beverage per day increases a child’s odds of becoming obese by 60 percent.

The bill, which will be introduced during tonight’s City Council meeting would require food service facilities, retailers, and certain advertisements posted within Baltimore City, including billboards, and transit ads, to post  following message: “WARNING: DRINKING BEVERAGES WITH ADDED SUGAR CONTRIBUTES TO TOOTH DECAY, OBESITY, AND DIABETES. THIS MESSAGE IS FROM THE BALTIMORE CITY HEALTH DEPARTMENT.” Baltimore City would become the second jurisdiction in the country to issues such a warning.

Additionally, the Baltimore City Health Department today launched a public health education campaign called “Rethink Your Drink to educate residents on the dangers of these beverages. The campaign includes: facts about sugar-sweetened beverages, a petition collecting Baltimore resident’s support, and a 30 day challenge to cut out all sugary drinks from your diet. Residents can track their progress with BCHD’s Rethink Your Drink calendar. To learn more, visit: http://health.baltimorecity.gov/RethinkYourDrink

“Research shows that companies disproportionally market sugary drinks to poor neighborhoods, increasing health disparities in our most vulnerable communities. This is an issue of justice as much as it is one of health,” added Dr. Wen. “We hope everyone will support these efforts to improve the health and well-being of Baltimore’s residents. Together we can all live longer, healthier lives."

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