Pediatricians' Group Urges Soda Ban in Schools to Fight Obesity
Advocating School Accountability, San Francisco
Tanner, Associated Press, 1/5/2004
For more articles like this
CHICAGO -- Soft
drinks should be eliminated from schools to help tackle the
nation's obesity epidemic, and pediatricians should work with
their local schools to ensure that children are offered
healthful alternatives, the American Academy of Pediatrics says.
In a new policy statement, the academy says doctors should
contact superintendents and school board members and "emphasize
the notion that every school in every district shares a
responsibility for the nutritional health of its students."
Some schools already limit contracts with vendors of soft drinks
and fast food, though the soft drink industry has fought efforts
by some states to mandate such restrictions. Legislation
limiting the amount of fatty foods and sugary drinks that could
be sold in Massachusetts schools -- and would have banned soda
sales in the facilities -- was introduced last year.
Although some schools rely on funds from vending machines to pay
for student activities, the statement by the pediatricians says
elementary and high schools should avoid such contracts and that
those with existing arrangements should impose restrictions to
avoid promoting over-consumption.
The policy appears in the January issue of Pediatrics, published
"The purpose of the statement is to give parents and
superintendents and school board members and teachers, too, an
awareness of the fact that they're playing a role in the current
obesity crisis and that they have measures at their disposal" to
address it, said Dr. Robert D. Murray, the policy's lead author.
About 15 percent of US youngsters ages 6 to 19 are seriously
overweight. That is nearly 9 million youths and triple the
number in a similar assessment from 1980.
Soft drinks are a common source of excess calories that can
contribute to weight gain, and soft drink consumers at all ages
have a higher daily calorie intake than non-consumers, the
academy's policy said. It cited data showing that 56 percent to
85 percent of school-age children consume at least one soft
drink daily, most often sugared rather than diet sodas.
The National Soft Drink Association said the new policy is
misguided and goes too far.
AAP SAYS SOFT DRINKS IN SCHOOLS SHOULD BE RESTRICTED
Below is a news release on a policy statement published
in the January issue of Pediatrics, the peer-reviewed,
scientific journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
For Release: January 5, 2004, 12:01 am (ET)
CHICAGO - In a new policy statement <http://www.aap.org/policy/s010119.html>
the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that school
districts should consider restricting the sale of soft drinks to
safeguard against health problems that result from
The policy points out that sweetened drinks constitute the
primary source of added sugar in the daily diet of children, and
that each 12-ounce serving of a carbonated, sweetened soft drink
contains the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar. Sugared soft
drink consumption has been associated with increased risk of
overweight and obesity, currently the most common medical
condition of childhood. Additional health problems associated
with high intake of sweetened drinks are dental cavities and
potential enamel erosion.
According to the policy, between 56 and 85 percent of school-age
children consume at least one soft drink daily. As soft drink
consumption increases, milk consumption decreases, and milk is
the principal source of calcium in the typical American diet.
With soft drinks and fruit drinks being sold in vending
machines, in school stores and at school sporting events, their
availability is ubiquitous. While soft drink sales can be a
substantial source of income for school districts, nutritious
alternatives such as water, real fruit juices and low-fat milks
are available for vending, and can help preserve school
The policy recommends that pediatricians work to eliminate
sweetened soft drinks in schools. This entails educating school
authorities, patients and parents about the health ramifications
of soft drink consumption. The statement also recommends that:
-- Pediatricians advocate for the creation of a school nutrition
advisory council as one means of ensuring that the health and
nutritional interests of students form the foundation of
nutritional policies in schools.
-- School districts should invite public discussion before
making any decision to sign a vended food or drink contract.
-- If a school district already has a soft drink contract in
place, it should be adapted so that it does not promote
over-consumption by students.
-- Consumption or advertising of sweetened soft drinks within
the classroom should be eliminated.
As part of the effort to reduce consumption of soft drinks in
schools, the policy recommends that vending machines not be
placed within the cafeteria space where lunch is sold, and that
soft drinks not be sold as part of, or in competition with, the
school lunch program.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The American Academy of Pediatrics is an
organization of 57,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric
medical sub-specialists and pediatric surgical specialists
dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants,
children, adolescents and young adults.
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