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Last Updated: 03/12/2018


 Article of Interest - Food Allergies

Liquid Candy or Healthy Kids?

by Bill Carlson

Article from

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Children and teens have little defense against the lure of soft drink advertising. Despite published health risks of soda consumption, soft drink moguls like the Pepsi-Cola Group continue to grow and prosper. During recent years, soda companies have gained access to children attending public schools by entering into exclusive contract agreements with local school districts. Once on campuses, these companies target children to promote their nutritionally bankrupt and lavishly sugared liquid candy products. According to The Washington Post (2.27.01), "Research suggests kids who drink a lot of soft drinks risk becoming fat, weak-boned, cavity-prone and caffeine-addicted." Shouldnít responsible adults who know better and set policy for public schools protect students from such health risks?


On August 27, 2002, The Los Angeles Unified School Districtís Board of Education unanimously voted to ban the sale of soft drinks during school hours on all school campuses. Student health concerns, especially those related to obesity, prompted the decision. During the discussion, District Superintendent Roy Romer said that he suffers from type 2 diabetes. He asked the board to continue its focus on student health issues. Last year, Oakland Unified School District approved a similar policy. (The Los Angeles Times 8.28.02) In the absence of common sense, legislation is needed that requires all school districts to protect students from on-campus junk-food promotions.


Locally, several community members offered serious health concerns to the school board about the school districtís proposed contract with the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Group. One of the presenters, Melodee Lopez, a Registered Dietitian, a Public Health Nutritionist for the County of San Bernardino, and mother of two children attending district schools, provided the board with a myriad of well-documented health advisories and other information in opposition to the Pepsi contract. Inevitably, on May 21, 2002, the school board voted 4 Ė 1 for approval. Apparently, the board was not convinced by the testimony, research, and documented professional health information. Effective July 1, 2002, Yucaipa-Calimesa schoolís administration signed an agreement giving exclusive vending and beverage "pouring rights" to the Pepsi Cola Bottling Group. In exchange, Pepsi agreed to pay the district $210,000 over a five-year period plus a commission for product sales. Pepsi now enjoys the prospect of "educating" students into a lifetime of loyalty to Pepsi products.


Currently, Pepsi product vending machines dispensing 20-ounce bottled soft drinks are strategically placed on the junior and senior high school campuses. Soft drinks are not available to students at elementary sites. Other than Pepsiís bottled water, all drinks contain ingredients believed to cause health problems. Traditional Pepsi (20 ounces) includes the rogue elements of phosphate, caffeine, and well over 16 teaspoons of sugar. Pepsiís non-carbonated "Fruit Works" drinks contain slightly less sugar but are still of minimal nutritional value. Imagine 16 teaspoons of sugar in your coffee or on your breakfast cereal!


Under the new Pepsi-District "Partnership," Pepsi calls for on campus "administrative vision." Jointly, the "team" intends to launch Pepsiís "exciting marketing programs" aimed at "creating student interest and fun." Students may win free tickets to amusement parks or get to sample products brought on campuses aboard the Mountain Dew Hummer, the Code Red Van, or the Mountain Dew Retila Ford F-150 Truck. By design, these promotions and Pepsiís Vend-A-Win gimmick will enhance studentsí product awareness and Pepsiís profits. Pepsi may achieve its goals. But what will students achieve? Should schoolsí priority be on promoting commercial funding resources or on promoting childrenís health?


So, how goes your vote: to liquid candy? Or to healthier kids?


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