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Warning: sugary drinks are a health threat

In response to The Sun's editorial, "Curbing sugary drinks in Baltimore" (Jan. 12), what I think is so striking about City Councilman Nick Mosby's proposed sugar-sweetened beverage warning label legislation is that it's actually the exact right place at the exact right time to do the right thing for Baltimore's children.

This is the exact right place. Baltimore has been disproportionately hit by the obesity epidemic in which one in four children consume one or more sugar-sweetened beverages every day. What makes Baltimore the perfect place to implement a warning label on sugar-sweetened beverages is that we have world-renowned researchers who have shown that these types of interventions work right here in our city. Dr. Sara Bleich and her team at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health looked at thousands of sugar sweetened beverage sales in Baltimore stores after implementing an educational calorie sign, which reduced consumption by nearly half for low-income black adolescents.

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This is the exact right time. In medical circumstances this dire, waiting will only lead to more suffering and death. If I have to start one more new teenage-onset diabetic patient on medications, diagnose one more gangrenous foot, initiate CPR on one more patient whose life we could have saved with public health interventions like this one, then I will have failed my patients for not acting sooner to help them understand the dangers of sugar-sweetened beverages.

This is the exact right thing to do. Warning labels on cigarettes save lives. Warning labels on alcohol prevent birth defects and liver disease. Warning labels on sugar sweetened beverages acknowledge that they are dangerous and help every consumer make an informed choice every time they purchase a beverage.

Dr. Richard Bruno, Baltimore

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