HOWARD COUNTY, Md. (WJZ)—No more sugary drinks in Howard County vending machines.

As Mike Schuh reports, the county executive stopped the drinks from being sold on county property.

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Childhood obesity has tripled in the past 30 years. Health experts pour the blame squarely on sugary drinks.

“Sugary drinks are the largest single source of added sugar to our children’s diet,” said Nikki Highsmith Vernick, Horizon Foundation CEO.

Sugar, she says,  turns into fat.

The student government at Burleigh Middle was brought out to demonstrate the problem.

At their call, 10 tons of fine sand was dumped to demonstrate the amount of sugar which would be consumed by their school in a year if every kid drank one sugar soda a day.

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“We are about to raise the first generation of kids that will not live as long as their parents,” Highsmith Vernick said.

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman used this backdrop to announce a ban on the sale of sugar drinks on county property.

“Vending machines will look differently in our parks, libraries and any county buildings,” Ulman said.

The ban, he says, takes effect immediately.

“We have a responsibility to lead by example. This doesn’t impact what people sell in their stores, what people sell in their restaurants, but when folks come into county buildings, I think we owe it to ourselves to be an example,” Ulman said.

But the head of a regional beverage association disagrees.

“Our industry is taking real action to help consumers and parents make informed choices,” said Ellen Valentino, executive vice president of Maryland/Delaware/District of Columbia Beverage Association, in a statement. “These programs will do more to help consumers learn about the importance of moderation and balance in the diet than a ban or restriction ever could.”

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Also included in the ban, no sugary drinks can be served at any meeting hosted by the county.