New York Tens of millions of students will no longer be able to buy non-diet sodas in the nation's public schools under an agreement announced early this morning between major beverage distributors and anti-obesity advocates.
The distributors, working with a joint initiative of the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Assn., also have agreed to sell only water, juice and low-fat milks to elementary and middle schools, said Jay Carson, a spokesman for former President Clinton.
Cadbury Schweppes PLC, Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and the American Beverage Assn. have all signed on to the deal, Carson said, adding that the companies represent "a very significant market share." The American Beverage Assn. represents the majority of school vending bottlers.
"It's a bold and sweeping step that industry and childhood obesity advocates have decided to take together," Carson said.
Nearly 35 million students nationwide will be affected by the deal, The Alliance for a Healthier Generation said in a news release. The agreement affects all public schools who have contracts with the distributors.
The deal affects more than just school cafeterias and vending machines. Schools that use distributors to purchase soda for sales at sporting events and fundraisers will be subject to the new restrictions, too, Carson said.
How quickly the changes take hold will depend in part on individual school districts' willingness to alter existing contracts, the release said.
The companies will work to implement the changes at 75 percent of the nation's public schools by the 2008-2009 school year, and at all schools a year later, the alliance said.