Sugar Free Kids, Maryland's leading voice in the fight against childhood obesity and teenage diabetes, announced Tuesday that it's proposing the "Maryland Healthy Vending Act."
The legislation would make more healthy food and drink choices available in vending machines on state property. The bill would also make the options more noticeable.
Seventy-five percent of the food and drinks offered in vending machines on state property will be required to meet healthy standards. All snacks would also have to meet trans fat and sodium standards. Plain bottled water would also be required in those vending machines.
"After two years of advocating for a healthier culture for children in the state of Maryland, Sugar Free Kids has become a recognized voice within the state," said executive director Robi Rawl. "We are ready to make a lasting impact in 2016 and it starts with healthier vending options for anyone who lives, works, learns and plays right here in Maryland."
Supporters for the bill argue that it could help eliminate childhood illness related to unhealthy eating habits.
"By making healthier food and drinks more widely available in vending machines, this bill could reduce the burden of diabetes, obesity and other chronic diseases for people who work and live in Maryland," Dr. Richard Bruno, board of trustees member at MedChi, said. "This legislation recognizes that addressing the growing public and health crises linked to poor nutrition requires leadership creative approaches."
Children from lower-income families and children of color are disproportionately affected by obesity and diabetes. The toll these problems can take on the children and their families is tremendous.
"Diseases like obesity and diabetes have been devastating communities of color for too long," said Gerald Stansbury, president of the NAACP Maryland State Conference. "Our chapter fully supports healthier options to be available where Marylanders live, work, and play."