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Roland Park Elementary Students Take Pledge Against Sugary Drinks

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Mike Schuh joined WJZ Eyewitness News as a general assignment reporter...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—With New York City set to enact a controversial ban on the sale of large sugary drinks, a Baltimore school is also getting into the act, but as Mike Schuh reports, in a much different way.

When you fill up a large cup with a sugar sweetened drink, you’re taking in far more sugar than you may think.

Because so many people are obese, including an estimated half the people in New York City, the mayor there is banning the sale of any sugar drink in any container larger than 16 ounces.

“This is becoming a public health issue, an epidemic, and you have to do something,” said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

There are some exceptions, including supermarkets.

A parent at Roland Park Elementary thinks the New York ban goes too far. He’s convinced those at Roland Park to let the students adopt a voluntary ban, and this parent knows an awful lot about healthcare.

“Oh, sugar causes all sorts of health problems,” said Dr. Peter Beilenson, public health officer.

He used to be Baltimore’s health officer, a job he now holds in Howard County.  That’s his occupation. His full-time job is being a parent of boys who go to Roland Park Elementary.

Rather than banning large sodas, he asked kids in Howard County to simply pledge not to drink them.

“To be honest it’s a way for us in the public health field to get attention because we don’t have the budgets to compete with the huge budgets by 7-Eleven and McDonald’s who have huge advertising budgets,” Beilenson said.

So he’s gotten school officials at Roland Park Elementary to agree to ask the students to pledge not to drink sugar drinks.

“If you cut your sugar in half — the amount of soda you drink, because you’re not thinking about the amount of sugar you’re putting into your body — that’s a sizable dent into the obesity problem,” Beilenson said. 

Roland Park Elementary will have its official unveiling of its voluntary pledge next week.

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