By Scott Hensley
Your kids will have to look a lot harder to find a sugary soda at school.
A joint project by the makers of drinks, the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association to reduce the calories from beverages in schools is paying off. A report just out shows the initiative, launched in 2006, has cut total calories from drinks in schools by 88 percent since the first half of the 2004-05 school year.
The shift came about from the implementation of guidelines on drinks that emphasized appropriate portions of water, reduced-fat milk and unsweetened juices starting in elementary school. Students at middle schools could get the same stuff in slightly larger portions. For high schoolers, the guidelines allowed a slightly wider variety of beverages, including some with more calories. But it still tamped down on the caloric mix of drinks available.
One of the biggest changes: a 95 percent drop in full-calorie sodas shipped to schools since the guidelines went into effect in 2006.
Even the nutrition advocates at the Center for Science and the Public Interest praised the project's progress, saying in a statement:
We congratulate the beverage industry for working to remove sugary sodas from schools. Together with stronger state laws and local school wellness policies, the country is making good progress in getting sugary drinks out of schools.
Still, CSPI says the job isn't done yet because about one-third of drinks sold in high schools have too many calories.
Separately, researchers said raising taxes on sodas and junk food could aid the nation's battle with obesity. A 20-year study found that at 10 percent increase in the price of soda and pizza was associated with a 7 percent drop in consumption. An accompanying editorial in the Archives of Internal Medicine went even further by suggesting that "besides adding surcharges to unhealthful foods, we should also consider the more positive side of the coin, food subsidies" for more nutritious fare.