Archive for Thursday, May 4, 2006

So long, sugary drinks

Industry to stop selling to schools

May 4, 2006


The vending machines at the entrance of Lawrence High School are bursting with sugary beverages: Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper and so on.

That's about to change.

Under a deal announced Wednesday morning, the soft drink industry will stop selling most sodas in the nation's public schools, instead offering diet sodas, unsweetened juices, low-fat milk and water.

"Not cool," said Esbensen Mette, 17, an LHS junior who bought a Gatorade as classes let out for the day.

Dr. James Casey, who runs the Healthy Hawks childhood obesity clinic at the University of Kansas Hospital, wasn't surprised by that reaction.

"It's going to make people mad, of course, because they're addicted to sugar," he said.

But eliminating high-calorie drinks from school won't solve the growing problem of overweight kids, he said.

"Just because they're not going to get it in schools, doesn't mean they can't get it somewhere else," Casey said.

Tiny sales

The settlement comes amid growing concerns about childhood obesity. According to the American Obesity Assn., the percentage of American boys ages 6-11 who were obese nearly quadrupled in 30 years - from 4.3 percent in the early 1970s to 16 percent in 2000. High-calorie drinks are often cited as one reason for the rise.

"In general, (obesity numbers) are markedly increased," Casey said. "You can look at any survey."

Wednesday's deal was announced by the William J. Clinton Foundation and was agreed to by the American Beverage Assn, comprised of industry giants such as Cadbury Schweppes PLC, Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc.

"This is a bold step forward in the struggle to help 35 million young people lead healthier lives," former President Clinton said at a news conference. "This one policy can add years and years and years to the lives of a very large number of young people."

Lawrence High School students Stella Finch, left, sipping on a Fanta Strawberry soft drink and Sarah Jackson, with a Sprite, say they often get a soft drink during lunch or at the end of the school day. Soft drink companies today announce nationally they are voluntarily removing high-calorie, sugary drinks from schools.

Lawrence High School students Stella Finch, left, sipping on a Fanta Strawberry soft drink and Sarah Jackson, with a Sprite, say they often get a soft drink during lunch or at the end of the school day. Soft drink companies today announce nationally they are voluntarily removing high-calorie, sugary drinks from schools.

How quickly the changes take hold will depend in part on individual school districts' willingness to alter their existing contracts, the alliance said. The companies agreed to work to implement the changes at 75 percent of the nation's public schools by the 2008-09 school year, and at all public schools a year later. Lawrence officials didn't have a timeline for changes to vending machines here on Wednesday.

The move shouldn't have much effect on the $63 billion beverage industry's bottom line, said John Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest, which compiles extensive data on the industry.

"The sale of sugar-carbonated sodas in schools is a tiny, tiny part of their overall volume," Sicher said. "The impact is more in terms of responsibility and accountability to the consumer."

No choices

Lawrence school officials were already working on a wellness policy that probably would have greatly restricted the sales of soda to students. No such sales are allowed in elementary schools; junior high students can buy pop after classes end for the day, and high school students have daylong access to soft drink vending machines.

"That works for me," Supt. Randy Weseman said of the news. "We're working on our wellness policy anyway, so this fits in with that. We welcome their help."

Lawrence High School sophomore Zach Guy selects a soft drink from a vending machine in the commons area at LHS. Soft drink companies on Wednesday announced that they will stop selling most sodas in the nation's public schools.

Lawrence High School sophomore Zach Guy selects a soft drink from a vending machine in the commons area at LHS. Soft drink companies on Wednesday announced that they will stop selling most sodas in the nation's public schools.

Linda Robinson, a school board member, wasn't so sure that an outright ban on soda was the way to go. Students must be taught to make healthy choices, she said.

"It isn't an abstinence-only thing," she said. "It's about moderation and making healthy choices, and this takes away that choice."

At least one LHS student seemed to agree. Lydia Shontz, 17, a junior, noted that other vending machines in the school still contain chips, cupcakes and other high-calorie snacks.

"It's just part of the problem," she said of soft drinks. "If they're going to solve the problem, they're only doing half the work."

Casey, the obesity expert, agreed. Cutting out soft drinks is only one part of a common-sense plan to lose weight, he said.

"Eat smart, exercise more," he said. "Eat smart, exercise more."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


cowboy 11 years, 11 months ago

welcome to Politicly Correct High School , Id like to have the vending contract at thelaundromat across from LHS

jayhawk166 11 years, 11 months ago

If you take away our vending machines were just going to go to a gas station buy our sodas and then bring them to school anyway. Also the schools get a certain percentage of the sales from the vending machine. Something like ten or twenty cents per sale so in acuality this is going to cost the schools a couple thousand dollars a year. Is it worth it seeings how its not going to stop kids from drinking soda which really dosn't make you fat but is just an excuss to get rid of pop?

LHS Student

mefirst 11 years, 11 months ago

I completely support this initiative and any others like it--including vending machines.

bmwjhawk 11 years, 11 months ago

It's fine that you will have to cross the street to get your sodas. Everyone will admire your effort and initiative. Or, maybe you'll choose water instead.

neopolss 11 years, 11 months ago

Way to go parents!

Why teach your children responsibility by making decisions for yourself, and instead make decisions FOR them! Shelter them from harmful soda pop at school, and then they face the real world with all of its temptations!

Think of these soft drinks like drugs. Outlawing the sodas only brings them in from alternative means, and those who want them, will still get them. EDUCATION about nutrition, eating at home, and changes in the American alwys-on-the-go lifestyle is what children need, not parenting through legislation. It sounds like a great plan, but the message we are really saying is - we don't respect you enough to allow you to make your own decisions. You want to curb obesity? It begins at home, at your dinner table, a place that some families might need to dust off theses days.

And to think I used to buy beer at the machines in Germany's schools. Thank God you puritans haven't infected that country yet.

GardenMomma 11 years, 11 months ago

They are still offering drinks in the vending machine. Water is better for you anyway.

My two kids would rather drink water or juice (100% juice- no sugar added) than soda anyway. I am teaching them healthy habits as best I can and am glad that there will be healthy choices for them when they get to high school.

gr 11 years, 11 months ago

"Outlawing the sodas only brings them in from alternative means, and those who want them, will still get them." Surely you wouldn't really make that statement inclusive!

"EDUCATION about nutrition, eating at home, and changes in the American alwys-on-the-go lifestyle is what children need, not parenting through legislation."

So, how do you propose that education is given? You mention allowing kids to make their own decisions, but yet say curbing obesity begins at home. Do you see your contradiction?

Kids need to be educated. In fact, the government doesn't believe kids can make decisions on their own until 18 and above.

Rather than condoning inappropriate choices, wouldn't it be more educational that to participate in such behavior, they have to go outside educational facilities to practice it? Sure, if kids were properly educated in their homes, it wouldn't be a problem for them to resist unhealthy choices. But, for whatever reasons, that isn't happening. Would you suggest legislating proper parenting?

betti81 11 years, 11 months ago

I cut my soda intake by about 90% and lost 7lbs.

RonBurgandy 11 years, 11 months ago

Maybe we should extend this to college campuses too. I mean, a freshman in college is really no different, maturity-wise, than a high school senior. We need to make the decisions for everyone, so we all are healthy and live longer. We could limit all vending machines with items that contain sugar to upperclassmen in college.

Taking this out of the elementary schools and junior high schools is fine, but people in high school should be old enough to decide what they want to drink. Especially since they are not far off of being able to vote or go to war. Not everyone needs to be looked after and have their decisions made by those who "know more".

mom_of_three 11 years, 11 months ago

It's great that the soft drink companies took the initiative, but it's just taking the tempation out of the schools and not fixing the problem. My high school kid will sometimes buy pop after school, and my junior high kid will buy gatorade. Both know the amount of sugar in each drink, and both try to limit the amount they drink. Both take bottled water to school. If you give kids the information, such as amounts of sugar, etc, then they can make good choices themselves.
There was a good point made about income to the schools - I wonder if the soft drink companies will make a donation instead......

akuna 11 years, 11 months ago

The problem is far greater than soda in schools. The American lifestyle leaves a lot to be desired. If we are trying to fix our woes with legislation then we have a long way to go. As I see it, here are a few more laws that we need to make:

Limit TV to one hour a night per person. Make it illegal to drive to a destination that is under a mile. Make it illegal to drive more than 100 miles a week. Enforce a minimum amount of excercise that a person gets a week. Limit the amount of food a person can eat to 2500 calories per day. If a person fails on any of these accounts, they have to serve community service.

OR Americans can simply sack-up and start taking care of themselves, their communities, and their environments. But most Americans are too selfish and clueless to fight the good fight. Maybe we need to spend a few billion dollars on this and call it a "War on Terror"ible Goods. HA.

Godot 11 years, 11 months ago

What leverage does the William J. Clinton Foundation have over the soft drink makers to get them to agree to restricting the sale of their products to a specific segment of government entities? What did they get in return for giving that up? Were they threatened with lawsuits if they didn't agree? Or will they get some other benefit, such as special access to her highness, Hillary?

Rationalanimal 11 years, 11 months ago

America is banning soda in schools, Mexico is about to legalize narcotic drug use, and can anyone tell me again why we need to provide amnesty for 13 million people from a country like that.

jesrobin1600 11 years, 11 months ago

You are right! Removing sodas from vending machines is not going to solve the problem. However, do you see the dicotomy...schools are trying to educate about healthy lifestyles, yet have ten or more soda machines available for their students. The schools and the soda companies are trying to take on the responsibility to provide better choices. I don't think they believe that it is "the solution", but they have to start somewhere. They are not taking away any of the students' abilities to make a decision on what they want to it has been said in other comments, the students can still bring soda from home or stop at the gas station before school. It will just not be as readily available to them in school. Change is always hard at first, but in a few years it will just be the norm and the student's will not know the difference.

monkeyspunk 11 years, 11 months ago

This isn't necessarily about "making beverage choices" for our kids in school.

Sugar and caffeine laden children are most likely not going to have as much success in school as children that lay off of the stuff.

I think the benefit of having less kids on a sugar high (and subsequent sugar low) and fewer children with caffeine induced shakes will greatly outweigh the loss of soft drink company income.

If the kids don't like, then they can drop out when they are 16. We will always need people to pick up the trash and clean up after the horses after one of Lawrence's fine parades.

CalGal 11 years, 11 months ago

Diet soda isn't any better than its counterpart. Empty calories are empty calories, and the chemicals used in diet soda are probably more harmful than sugar anyway.

Education does start in the home, but unfortunately many adults are just as clueless about good nutrition as their kids. Hey, you can't even get nutritionists to totally agree on a standard! Nonetheless, schools should be picking up the slack, helping to teach kids about healthy choices and the consequences of not making them.

Strontius 11 years, 11 months ago

This is just stupid, and another example of our rights being taken away under the guise of "safety" or "public health".

Telling young adults they are not allowed to consume Pepsi and Coke products at school will not suddenly, and magically, lead to better health across the country. It will just create heavy resentment and outright disobedience. If this regulation had come into effect when I was in high school, I would have been buying soda at gas stations and selling it for low prices. But then again, I have a real problem with elected officials telling me what I can and cannot do with my own body.

Look at most of the posts above. It's like people expect parents to hover over their children on a 24 basis and rigidly enforce even the most basic decisions. This is simply a logistical impossibility.

It makes me wonder if people have ever tried sitting down with their children and talking to them about healthy lifestyles. From that point on, parents can only really purchase good food and hope for the best. People don't magically become adults when they're 18, and society needs to do a better job of including young adults in decisions regarding their personal health and safety. Democracy should start in the home, with at least parents and society giving young people a chance for honest input.

I would also suspect that most adults have equally high levels of sugar and caffeine addiction, and those are the same people pushing for these ridiculous laws. Hypocrites, plain and simple.

So yes, teach children about the benefits of a healthy diet and exercise, but don't force it on them. High school students do have minds of their own, and if there school, a place they may resent for a number of reasons, is forcing something into their lives, they may just reject it outright.

Why don't we just ban McDonalds and all sorts of fatty foods? Lets really take away the things making people fat and unhealthy. Then we can all live until were 120 after 40 years of terrible, declining physical abilities. And when we die, having never really enjoyed life, it will all be worth it because we staved off death for a few more years.

badger 11 years, 11 months ago

I'm glad to see this framed as an industry initiative instead of as a governmental ban. OK, so the kids will walk across the street to get a soda. Fine by me, because the walk will burn off some of those empty calories.

People working on their own will have a difficult time making the habit changes that building a healthy lifestyle requires. It helps a lot to be given incentives that really do affect how you make choices.

I met someone who works for a company here in Austin that has an interesting approach to employee wellness. In the vending machine juice, water, and lowfat milk are a quarter, but soda is a dollar. Lower fat and sugar snacks are also a quarter, and their high-fat, high-sugar counterparts are seventy five cents. The company, to get its employees to eat a little better at work, subsidizes the difference for the healthier snacks. They offer cheap group memberships at a nearby gym, and have a 'Weekly Workout Bunch' after work that several of the execs and higher-ups attend to provide an example. They hit people in their pocketbooks and their wish to look proactive and involved in front of the bosses. Working there, 'healthy' is fiscally and professionally advantageous (which it is anyway), and it seemed to have worked.

The woman I met who works there told me that in the first six months after the program started, the four people in her department lost a combined hundred pounds, and since they were changing long-term habits, they didn't just put the weight back on right away.

Sure, some people will care enough about the sugar fix to bring candy bars from home or pay three or four times the cost, and some people won't want to work out so they won't go, but overall people really do want to be healthier, and if you make it easier for them to get halfway there, they have a lot more ability to get the rest of the way on their own.

NLowrider 11 years, 11 months ago

"Public high schools would still be sold diet soda under the agreement, but elementary and middle schools would be sold only unsweetened juice, low-fat milk and water, said Jay Carson, a spokesman for the former president."

drctrlr 11 years, 11 months ago

Not sure this article hypes an outright ban on soda and snacks. I think it instead focuses on the fact that restrictions are in the works for what determining acceptable vending machine offerings in schools. Even if an outright ban is enacted, since when are schools obligated to provide junkfood and soda companies access to students (and vise-versa).

neopolss 11 years, 11 months ago

Knowing kids in my day, it won't take long until some kid figures out he can smuggle in a few cold beverages and sell them at $2.00 to $3.00 apiece.

Is the junk food next? Perhaps placing an age limit on purchasing soda? Citywide ban on ice cream? You scoff, but think - 50 years ago, half of the current "safety" laws would be seen as an infringement.

Rationalanimal 11 years, 11 months ago

Kids don't have the intelligence to make the right choices sometimes. When little Billy is holding $1 bill in his hand and looking at the natural juice machine and the Coke machine, he'll take the Coke machine 10 times out of 10. That's how habits are formed. The end result is a nation full of fatsos at an alarmingly increasing rate. Let's stop making this an issue about taking away ones right and listen to the commons sense on this issue. Little Billy's hugely obese mother can still feed him soda and twinkies at home, its just now the state or federal govt are aiding and abetting Little Billy developing diabetes some day.

gphawk89 11 years, 11 months ago

My K-12 schools did not have a soda machine, or any type of vending machine for that matter. I don't remember that being a problem. And I don't remember students bringing sodas or snacks to school - I don't think we were allowed to. If you were hungry, you waited for lunch, if you were thirsty, you used the water fountain between classes. The problem occurs when one becomes addicted to the high brought on by the caffiene and sugar - once you start depending on that to keep you awake and "feeling good" in class, having it taken away can seem like a major problem.

Laura Wilson 11 years, 11 months ago

Id like to have the vending contract at thelaundromat across from LHS

Yep, that's what everyone who wanted pop did back in the old days when there were no vending machines at the high school. I only knew a handful of people who did that. Somehow we survived without a coke for the day (or until lunch when seniors ONLY were allowed to leave the school).

We also didn't have vending machines with food in them either, and somehow we didn't starve to death between breakfast and lunch. If the elementary aged kids can last without anything between meals why can't the older kids?!

adavid 11 years, 11 months ago

we've got mentally unstable people wandering the streets, gas prices turning our wallets inside-out and a president whose approval rating is lower than his age, but we're concerned about caffeine intake.... i'm curious.. who's going to administer the administrators when they've lost their minds to their asses?

Godot 11 years, 11 months ago

Suppose Sprint, Nextel and At&T met with an ex-president and, at his request, agreed that none of the companies would sell cell phones to families with high school age students because the students might put themselves at risk and drive while talking. Or,imagine that they decided, as a group, to not sell cell phones to certain ethnic groups, as a security precaution. Would that be okay, because it is making people safer?

There is liberal outrage when a single pharmacist , on his own, decides not to sell the morning-after pill at all, to anyone. At least patrons seeking the pill can still find a competing pharmacist who will sell it. Yet, here, an entire industry has colluded to ban the sale of their sugary drinks to a specific group, K-12 schools, and people think it is just fine.

I don't understand why there isn't some outrage at the market and social manipulation that is going on here.

Godot 11 years, 11 months ago

Bennyoates, in this case, Bill Clinton is using his power and influence to manipulate the free market, ostensibly because he does not believe that local school boards, let alone parents and children, will make the right decision regarding food choices.

Actually, I'd like to know the real reason behind this move.

One thing, for sure, that this has accomplished has been to open up an opportunity for someone to start a new soft drink company to fill the void left by Coke and Pepsi.

I can see it now: "Bubba's Bubbles," proudly headquartered in a mobile home in Arkansas.

tell_it_like_it_is 11 years, 11 months ago

We allow military recruiters access to our childrens personal information when they are in high school so that they can start bugging them when they about sopomores to make decisions that will effect the rest of there lives. But bygod we're gonna protect them from that evil soda pop.

I have no doubt about it. This whole country has went nuts.

Godot 11 years, 11 months ago

I don't know what RTFA means, but it must have something to do with the fact that I overlooked the obvious point that selling more diet soda (which is probably cheaper to make than sugared soda) makes up for not selling sugared soda.

Have you ever noticed that people who drink diet soda are usually overweight? Which comes first, the diet soda, or the diet?

Strontius 11 years, 11 months ago

"The Soviet liberals..."

Conservativeman, do you know the difference between liberals and socialists, or do you just lob everyone on the left into an extreme? Should I declare that Bush and all of his supporters share some resemblance to the National Socialists? Of course not. It's completely ridiculous and little more than an insult. We'll never make any real progress if people take everything to an extreme, which I see happening more and more in America.

Just think about what you're saying before you type it out. Words are very powerful, and you should use them responsibly.

As far the remainder of this subject, I disagree with taking soda out of schools under the guise of forcing a more healthy lifestyle onto people. I know that many people are unhealthy and overweight, but people need to take responsibility for themselves.

Because this was an initiative on behalf of the soda companies, it really makes me wonder what really inspired this move. I find it hard to believe such a thing came about because the Pepsi and Coke CEOs decided kids needed to be healthier.

In reality, the schools are the big losers here. Kids won't suddenly lose weight and reform themselves, but the schools will lose out on a lot of money from those machines. In an age where the U.S. is being surpassed by so many other countries in education and economic opportunities, can we really afford to deprive the schools of voluntarily contributed funds?

jayhawk72 11 years, 11 months ago

Maybe we should instill a "sugar-free zone" for the schools....No sugar within 1000 feet of the school. Ha Ha

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