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I thank The Sun for the thoughtful editorial ("Curbing sugary drinks," Jan. 13) and further raising awareness about dangers of sugary drinks.

For the first time in history, there are children with diseases previously seen only in adults. As a doctor, I am treating 14-year olds with adult-onset diabetes and 18-year olds with heart disease. Scientific studies directly attributed this startling trend to the consumption of sugary drinks.

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Research shows that many parents are not aware of these dangers and would make different choices about their children's drinks if they did. There are warning labels on cigarettes and alcohol for this reason; consumers must have the facts at point-of-sale to make informed choices. Our intention is not to impose hardship on storeowners but to shift the preferences of consumers toward purchasing healthier drinks.

The Sun asks Baltimore to wait; yet, the number one killer in our community is already heart disease. One in three of Baltimore's children are already overweight or obese, speeding toward poor health and shortened life spans.

If it is any lesson we have learned after April's unrest, it is that we are a city with huge disparities and growing inequities. Our Health Department is proud to be the oldest in the country with a long history of innovation — driven by science, grounded in justice, and always in our residents' best interests. We cannot afford to wait for other cities to innovate while our residents fall further into disease. Now is the time for bold action.

Dr. Leana S. Wen, Baltimore

The writer serves as Baltimore City Health Commissioner.

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