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New Bill Would Issue Warnings For Sugary Drinks

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Calling sugar a threat to human health, a bill going before Baltimore's City Council would post warning signs to that effect.

Alex DeMetrick reports the warnings would have to go up wherever sugary drinks are sold in the city.

A 20-ounce soda can contain up to 16 teaspoons of sugar---and researchers say that is adding far too much weight to children.

"One in four children here in Baltimore City is obese. The biggest contributor to why children are obese is drinking these sugary beverages," said Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen.

So she wants to see a warning sign displayed wherever sugary drinks are sold in the city---and City Councilman Nick Mosby is sponsoring a bill to do just that.

"Yes, there are penalties built into the legislation," he said.

And that penalty is a $500 fine if warnings aren't posted.

"It establishes a new mandate; it establishes criminal penalties and it posts a warning sign that exists nowhere, nowhere else on the East Coast or the country," said Ellen Valentino, Maryland/Delaware Beverage Association.

More than the Beverage Association is upset with the bill. A statement from the Maryland Retailers Association says, "At a time when Baltimore City is struggling to retain and attract grocery stores and supermarkets, this new mandate will have a chilling effect."

"It's not anti-business. It's not restrictive," Mosby said.

Backers of the bill say science backs them up: obesity leads to diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

"We're seeing children start to have adult on-set diseases, diseases that used to be only adults would get," Wen said.

And backers hope a warning might slow down the sugar intake.

If the bill becomes law, the city's health department would provide businesses with the warning signs and instructions on where to display them.

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