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Sodas Skip Schools

Soft-Drink Makers Join Child Obesity Fight, Won't Sell Sugary Soda in Schools

Environmental Change for Kids continued...

"If we can help our children learn the right balance between consuming calories and burning calories, we will give them the tools to lead healthy lives," Susan Neely, president and CEO of the American Beverage Association, said at the news conference. "The school beverage policy contributes to giving our children these skills, particularly when coupled with greater physical education and physical activity. Children need to learn both parts of the equation in order to fully succeed in a healthy life."

The nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, which has been highly critical of the soft drink industry, announced plans to drop a lawsuit against Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Cadbury Schweppes, and their bottlers following today's announcement.

New Beverage Guidelines for Schools

Here's the contract the beverage industry has agreed to make with school districts. Milk, as defined in the contract, includes "nutritionally equivalent milk alternatives" such as soy milk. All 100% juices must contain the minimum daily requirement of at least three vitamins or minerals. For example, orange juice would qualify. Apple juice might not.

Elementary schools will allow only:

  • Bottled water
  • Up to 8-ounce servings of milk and 100% juice
  • Low-fat and nonfat regular and flavored milk with up to 150 calories per 8 ounces
  • 100% juice with no added sweeteners and up to 120 calories per 8 ounces

Middle schools will allow the same things as elementary schools, but juice and milk may be sold in 10-ounce servings. If middle school and high school students share the same campus or the same buildings, the high-school standards will apply.

High schools will allow only:

  • Bottled water
  • No- or low-calorie beverages with up to 10 calories per 8 ounces
  • Up to 12-ounce servings of milk, 100% juice, light juice, and sports drinks
  • Low-fat and nonfat regular and flavored milk with up to 150 calories per 8 ounces
  • 100% juice with no added sweeteners and up to 120 calories per 8 ounces
  • Light juices and sports drinks with no more than 66 calories per 8 ounces

At least 50% of beverages must be water and no- or low-calorie options.

"This mix of beverages will be implemented in all schools by the 2009-2010 school year," Neely said.

Will the Fast-Food Industry Follow?

Kids, of course, don't get all their calories at school.

"We have to get moms and dads involved," Huckabee said. "Good habits are more caught than taught. If parents don't set the right kind of table, and the right kind of activity schedule, we won't solve this problem."

And sodas, of course, aren't kids' only high-calorie food.

Only yesterday, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a joint report calling for the food industry to make huge changes in how it sells high-calorie foods to kids.

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