The Checkout

Say Bye to Sugary Soda in Schools

The beverage industry is scheduled to announce today that it is voluntarily removing high-calorie soft drinks from all schools.

In an agreement to be announced by former president Bill Clinton, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) and the head of the American Heart Association, the industry also will limit the amount of other sugary beverages, such as fruit drinks, in school vending machines. But diet soft drinks will continue to be sold in high schools that allow such products.

The agreement calls for eliminating sales of sodas, diet sodas, sports drinks, juice drinks, apple juice or grape juice in elementary schools. Water and more healthful juices such as orange juice could continue to be sold, but in only eight-ounce or smaller containers, according to sources who were briefed yesterday. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan had not yet been announced.

In middle schools, the same drinks will be offered but in containers as large as 10 ounces. Read my full story in today's Post.

Any thoughts on this?

On another note, a story I wrote today about government recommendations on limiting advertising of junk food to kids was the subject of today's daily "From the Pages of The Washington Post" podcast. You can listen to it one of three ways:

Download and hear today's edition of the podcast here; use the XML link to subscribe; or subscribe through iTunes.

By  |  May 3, 2006; 2:45 AM ET Kids Marketing
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

It's about damned time! Now, can the government move on charging parents with neglect for putting high-sugar drinks in constant reach of their kids? Or require a license for procreation, such as is required for owning a dog or operating a motor vehicle? ...but perhaps the lives and health of children really aren't that important politically.

Posted by: bigolpoofter | May 3, 2006 9:28 AM

I can understand pulling out the sodas and think it's an excellent choice- but why leave diet soda in? Aspertame is a horrible chemical and you're still getting all the other wrong stuff from the drinks.

Posted by: Liz | May 3, 2006 9:35 AM

Only a bunch of idiots would allow substituting something safe like sugar with diet sodas that have substances in them that are scientifically assumed to cause cancer and cause other abnormalities. Not everyone has a weight problem. I don't allow my kids to drink diet drinks. Is there no one around with any sense to stand up to this stupidity?

Posted by: Lance Harrell | May 3, 2006 9:36 AM

Yes, I agree that soda shouldn't be sold in schools. However, I grew up in the 70's with soda on the table at every meal. I took a can of soda to school with me every day in high school to have (warm) with lunch. I grew up with more junk food than you could imagine and yes, was chubby at the time. This does not mean a death sentance. I have since learned better nutrition and actually have developed a distaste for soda and never drink it. I am a healthy normal weight 30-something because I actually exercise too. I think with proper education and limiting bad foods, but not restricting them which can cause an unhealthy relationship with food, children and adults can maintain a healthy life. Does the previous poster want to sue the federal government for eliminating funds for gym classes in schools? Proper weight management is not done by food alone...

Posted by: calmdown | May 3, 2006 9:39 AM

Lets see, they nix the sugar, but allow aspartame (Rumsfelds legacy). I guess the sugar industry didn't pay their lobbyists enough.

Posted by: George | May 3, 2006 9:44 AM

To the doomsayers and conspiracy theorists above. A new study has refuted the link between cancer and aspartame.
The previous study that found some link was done by Italian researchers with very high doses in rats. The above study was done with normal doses in humans. Doesn't anyone trust the FDA anymore?

Posted by: TheNathan | May 3, 2006 9:47 AM

aspartame does not cause cancer, and neither do cigarettes

Posted by: Lance Harrell | May 3, 2006 9:50 AM

My concern is that the schools are blaming soda for obesity at the same time they are cutting back on PE classes and raising fees on extracurricular sports (the ones they aren't eliminating.)

Posted by: Art Hackett | May 3, 2006 9:51 AM

Another example of personal responsibility being abdicated and someone else being blamed. I too grew up with soda, Kool Aid, candy, and cookies oh my! I also grew up playing outside after school and not being parked in front of a TV or a computer to play games after school. You can take the bad food away, but until people are willing to take responsibility for their lives and the lives of their children, the underlying problem of obesity in this country will continue. Perhaps we'd all be healthier if we took 30 minutes a day to play with our kids or even take a walk with them? Perhaps kids would be healthier if mom or dad packed their lunch with nutritious food and taught them good eating practices instead of giving them $5 as they walked out the door to buy whatever they wanted.

Posted by: Jon | May 3, 2006 9:57 AM

Well, I'll just let "Scientifically Assumed" go.

However, soda bans are pure "feel-good" politics that do nothing while making somebody feel like a champ for "tackling" the problem. Studies show that caloric intake among children has rose a whopping 1% (not a typo) in the past 20 years. Yet Obesity has gone haywire. So, let's blame the soda. Yes, that's it.

Posted by: Cleetus | May 3, 2006 9:59 AM

This only half the battle. You don't need a study to tell you that Aspartame is junk. It is a man-made chemical. Does anyone really like the taste of diet soda? Not really. Maybe our bodies are trying to tell us something! Good nutrition is not rocket science. Stick to whole unadulterated foods as much as possible, and stay away from processed junk. Easy.

Posted by: mrshesse | May 3, 2006 10:00 AM

I see no problem with limiting or removing soda from schools, but I wonder where it will end. Sugary drinks have been blamed for a host of problems, but isn't it more important that we educate our children on why nutritious choices are needed. Sodas have become a scape-goat for a national epidemic, but blaming someone doesn't solve the problem. People need to learn about personal responsibility, for themselves and their children. Is it right that the government and lobbyists dictate so many aspects of our lives?

Posted by: Kati | May 3, 2006 10:01 AM

Yes it's all about teaching your children proper eating habits. But knowing that there is nothing but water and milk being served at school still makes me feel better about allowing my children to drink what is served there. Soda should be a treat, not an every day thing. I can treat my kids at home. And yes I know a lot of the food schools serve is questionable, but this is one fewer item with which I can concern myself.

Posted by: KS | May 3, 2006 10:08 AM

Great idea. A move in the right direction. I went to a grade school and high school where balanced, sit-down meals (tables of 10 with the food placed in the center, which was passed around) were served, including a dessert. The beverages at lunch were water or milk. And the food was good. We all had our favorites. Healthy snacks were served at c. 3 pm. There wasn't a soda or snack machine in the school, and no one noticed or cared. They weren't missed or expected. Such machines were just not part of the scene. The kids were fed and were interested in all the other things that go on at school. And there was sports class every day. Just the way lunch and food were handled, as well as daily sports, were instilling healthy habits in the children, and good socialization with the non-cafeteria, community meal set-up. That's what we should aim for in the longer run. The obesity epidemic comes from many cultural habits that most parents and society as a whole teach their children, including eating on the run, not learning how to cook, and eating too much prepared or processed food. The obesity epidemic is a cultural as well as a food supply problem in this country.

Posted by: Jane | May 3, 2006 10:09 AM

I actually prefer the taste of Diet Coke to regular Coke, and I've noticed that most people who switch for about a week soon find that regular soft drinks are way too sweet. I guess it's what you're used to. There isn't going to be a single solution to the obesity problem. But eliminating 100+ calorie beverages from schools will certainly help.

Posted by: James | May 3, 2006 10:12 AM

Here's a radical idea: Students are human beings, who can (and one way or another WILL) decide for themselves what to drink. If soda is so bad, convince them of it. Then, even when they do have the option of buying soda--which it's difficult to stop them from having outside school and nearly impossible to stop them from having once they're 18--they won't drink it.

Posted by: Alexander | May 3, 2006 10:16 AM

yes, certain sodas do cause cancer. because of kidney infections. if they only drink soda or too much soda, it will cause cancer. i think it's a good idea, but only sale juice and power drinks (like gatorade). kids love gatorade.

Posted by: amanda | May 3, 2006 10:17 AM

Like there isnt more to worry about in the world then kids drinking soda.. Jesus

Posted by: Oh God | May 3, 2006 10:35 AM

Who in their right mind would count on the government to take care of your kids? It's much safer to just teach them from the beginning to make the right choices, and that includes in the cafeteria at school. My 13 year old packs her own lunch because, get this, she prefers to "eat healthy" . They can sell whatever they want, she takes in sring water to drink.

Posted by: Lynn | May 3, 2006 10:37 AM

I'm more interested to see if this helps kids pay attention in school than what it does to their weight. I used to work with elementary-level kids, and you ain't seen nothin' until you've seen an 8-year old jacked up on three bottles of Pepsi. Wow. No wonder we're seeing more and more ADD. These kids are extremely overcaffeinated.

My high locked down the soda and snack machines until after school was out. Isn't that a decent compromise?

Posted by: C | May 3, 2006 10:40 AM

Great. I too grew up with soda at every meal and for sale at school as well. But, I also was very weight was never an issue. Restricting access to something will only further drive desire...anyone remember the kids that went nuts partying when they finally had freedom in college? Probably a product of overbearing restrictive parents...taking away soda, rather than teaching responsible behaviors is just another manifestation of this! Go outside and play rather than plopping down in front of the tv or computer!!!

Posted by: Scott | May 3, 2006 10:41 AM

It seems to be just a big compromise. Trying to please both sides. There are other things in the school cafeteria that we have to worry about. Like the ice cream vending machine at my child school. I agree with Kati. We are responsible for ourselves and for our children.

Posted by: Irene | May 3, 2006 10:42 AM

Life if about informed choices not about restricted choices. It is also about personal responsibility and self discipline. What does this teach kids, parents, and teachers about any these fundamental life strategies? Nothing.

Congratulations to the government on furthering the victim mentality in America.

Posted by: Joshua | May 3, 2006 10:45 AM

I am glad to see that this has finally happened. More and more when I go into schools I see kids downing massive amounts of Mountain Dew, etc, and just growing fatter and more in danger of health problems later down the road. Children need to be educated about the importance of a diet low in processed sugars.

-A concerned young military officer

Posted by: aeroeng | May 3, 2006 10:46 AM

What few people are addressing is the tight relationship between schools and the soft drink purveyors: drink companies subsidize schools with copious amounts of hard $$$. When the machines go, the money trail follows. Schools are reluctant to give up the cash cow, even in light of all the negative nutrition info fall-out. Bottom line folks is that schools are prostituting themselves big the expense of your children's health.

Posted by: S. Edwards | May 3, 2006 10:49 AM

I don't know if anyone noticed, but this isn't the government pulling soda from schools. It is the beverage industry paired with the AHA agreeing that sodas packing 150 calories are probably not helping kids stay healthy. Neither Congress nor the President did anything to mandate this deal.

I for one applaud these companies for being responsible corporate citizens. Because lets be honest, despite the fact that parents have the ultimate responsibility for their kids (absolutely the case)- they cannot police what they buy at school. Lunch money meant for milk goes to a soda instead. If you're ok with your kid drinking soda, by all means, pack one with their lunch. There's nothing limiting the ability to do so.

As for the diet soda exemption, compromise makes the world go round.

Posted by: Jeff | May 3, 2006 10:59 AM

Here is an eye-opener to all those defending soda: there is an equivalent of 10 (TEN!!!) TEASPOONS OF SUGAR IN A SODA CAN!!! I agree that aspartame is not the best alternative, but removing sugared sodas from schools is a good first step.

Posted by: Elle | May 3, 2006 11:09 AM

I think this is wonderful. At the same time, how about continued work on limiting the junk sold in school cafeterias/pushing fresh fruit/veggies. Kids can't possibly stay healthy on a daily diet of fried chicken and french fries with a cupcake chaser.

Posted by: Meagan | May 3, 2006 11:10 AM

Aspartame is horrible and causes cancer. I know this because I heard it from a friend and read it on the internet. I choose to ignore every study that, in fact, have found no link between cancer and aspartame because those studies are junk science sponsored by the big aspartame industry or a conspiracy designed and instituted by big government. Instead I focus on the one study that found a weak link between extraordinary levels of aspartame in laboratory mice and some cancers. Do not bother trying to reason with me. If you disagree with me then your eyes are simply closed to the lies and conspiracies that are all around you.

Posted by: TheNathan | May 3, 2006 11:22 AM

I went to a high school with at least seven vending machines inside, and several other sources for buying soda. I drank soda then, and still do. I have never thought that soda machines were appropriate in elementary schools, but I was not allowed to drink caffinated soda until I was at least 14. My parents realized that these drinks aren't nutritional and I took juice to school instead. Of course, the calories from sugary soda can contribute to obesity, but I think schools and parents need to be placing much more emphasis on making healthy choices. The kids at my school who were more concerned with their health didn't drink soda--they bought bottled water or juice. Kids who want soda will still buy soda. Taking the machines out is pointless, and a loss in good money-making opportunities for under-funded schools.

Posted by: Jessica | May 3, 2006 11:35 AM

They should leave the sodas in the schools. Its the students that choose to buy the soda or not.

Posted by: Aaron | May 3, 2006 11:38 AM

First math and science, and now soda pop. Where will it end?

Posted by: petekva | May 3, 2006 12:01 PM

Has anyone heard of the nanny state? Having graduated high school two years ago, I can't imagine the outrage that will pour from teenagers everywhere. Personally, I do not drink soda, but this seems a random target for health control. As a friend wrote in my college newspaper,

"The solution isn't banning soda and Cheetos. It's salad and a jog. If the country's moralizers want to save our six-packs, they should ban chips less and build more gyms. Imagine a faith-based exercise initiative at every YMCA. How about this for a bumper sticker movement: WWJB? What would Jesus bench?"


Let's try to maintain the right to personal choice, huh?

Perhaps a scale-back of these sugary products is appropriate, but going cold turkey sure will make for some cranky lunch-line conversation.

Posted by: DMT | May 3, 2006 12:01 PM

Looking at the "Shape of the Nation" report released yesterday that said PE classes across the nation are failing horribly, the answer is not removing soda from schools. If we informed the students of the true risks of an unhealthy lifestyle, and then actually had them being outside and active, then we wouldn't have to yell "childhood obesity" from the rooftops.

I'm a high school student, and pretty much drink a soft-drink or juice drink everyday. However, I bike instead of drive, run cross country and track, and overall live an active lifestyle. You can take away all you want, but if you sit and waste away, nothing will stop the inevitable. It's time to take responsibility for their actions and eating habits and start taking steps (literally) in the right direction.

Posted by: Schuyler Hall | May 3, 2006 12:05 PM

This is ridiculous. Moderation is the key. Milk or fruit or vegetable juice (you could have had a V-8!) is best for lunch. But let the children make their own choices for a snack. I'm glad I'm allowed to have a soft drink at work ...

Posted by: Ross | May 3, 2006 12:10 PM

It's about time that the soda industry take some responsibility for the extreem obesity rates among US children today. I commend them for this voluntary move. Kids will drink what's there - available to them. Educators (teacher AND parents) need to take more responsibility and teach healthy choices...

Posted by: A teacher | May 3, 2006 12:10 PM

Sodas are a start, next should be the diet sodas, then the snack machines, and then all of the other highly processed, fatty foods that are in our school lunches. Personal responsibility is a great idea, but children (including teenagers) can't be expected to make healthy choices when there are so many other tempting options. If we make the choice easy (as in providing only healthy food at schools) we can guarantee that kids will make the right "choice".

Posted by: Susanna | May 3, 2006 12:20 PM

As an adult I'm bummed I can't buy a low-sugar beverage, except for water. Maybe this ban will start the development of low-sugar beverages. Oh, but of course, the high sugar content makes you thirsty to drink more of their product. Silly me.

Posted by: DJMonet | May 3, 2006 12:22 PM

Us students should have sodas. We are not the only ones that are getting fat in this country. If you take out the soda that we drink, why not take away the soda in other machines like in businesses and supermarkets?

Posted by: A student | May 3, 2006 12:23 PM

At the elementary school I teach at, the vending machines are only allowed to be used by the teachers. Teachers do have the option of purchasing soda -- diet or otherwise. Students do not. I'm not opposed to banning soda in schools -- I don't drink it anyway. However, I am opposed to teachers taking away recess and not having P.E. classes.

Posted by: Miss G | May 3, 2006 12:24 PM

I don't understand the "victim mentality" point. Why should a public school offer foods that are bad for children? Schools should have a variety of healthful selections to choose from and if the students want something different, they can bring it from home. The default should be offering healthful foods and beverages and if you don't like it, bring your own food/drink, not the other way around.

I don't see why a soda being offered to children is some great freedom to be protected and that if soda companies stop marketing it to kids in public schools then somehow we are all whiny victims who don't take personal responsibilty. Bizarre line of logic.

I also don't believe that children should decide what they will eat. When I was growing up, my parents told me what I would eat and that's what I ate. Sodas weren't an option, either at school or at home.

I do my best to teach my children to eat healthful foods and to offer them delicious nutritious options. I'd really like it if the public school system didn't undermine my efforts.

Posted by: Chrissy | May 3, 2006 12:26 PM

you should keep the pop machines so we can have pop during lunch. We should keep the pop machines so we can enjoy the thirst after school.

Posted by: carie paul | May 3, 2006 12:33 PM

We know soda pop, chips, etc are bad for you so why should a school sell them? The school should be a model--to pursue a healthy diet, to engage in lifelong learning, to be be physically active--to be replicated as we age.

If students can't think they can make it without the soft drinks, maybe it is time for them evaluate their lifestyle.

Posted by: parent of little ones | May 3, 2006 12:42 PM

I'm fine with soda bans, even though my old club used soda can recycling from school machines to fund their major trips.

You'd be amazed at how much soda "smart" students drink when unsupervised. We had TONS of cans to make money off of.

I remember when I was in Jr HS I would drink a super big gulp and never think twice about it. By HS I realized caffeine was giving me headaches and symptoms so I tapered off.

However today I have diabetes thanks to all the pounds I packed on as a teenager drinking soda not even knowing how many calories were in a Super Big Gulp.

I also have concerns about how overscheduled schools can be.

As a teenager, I regularly grabbed hostess snack pies from the snack machine, because the lunch lines were too long for me to get food and scarf it down before the next bell. 30 minutes' lunch break was always more like 25 with the time to and from class included, then 10-15 minutes in line... that leaves 10 minutes to scarf down food which wasn't that healthy or great anyway.

I could understand why teens would fight to keep snack machines in school. But it's not the real answer.

I agree that exercise is key for kids. I got plenty as a kid, yet I still gained weight.

But we should also try and give them healthy choices, education on nutrition, and opportunity to try new (healthy) foods

Tomato juice, for one. I never tasted it until I was an adult. The drawback is that it tends to be fairly high sodium, but it has as much vitamin C as OJ and far less sugar.

There are other options out there-- milk, water. I don't see why diet sweetened iced tea should be sold.

What's wrong with schools making their own iced tea? It's a lot cheaper and fresher, and students can sweeten to fit. Mint iced tea and other variations can also be served.

Posted by: Willie | May 3, 2006 12:47 PM

The problem is the people, not the soda companies. However, since a large population neglects control over their eating habits, this is a good move, though unfortunate. It takes away the freedoms of individuals because 1/3 of us cannot eat responsibly.

On the other hand, allowing children to be overweight is not all bad. I was significantly obese by the end of elementary school and middle school, suffering from foot, knee, and back pains, in addition to trouble breathing, all of which I started seeing a doctor for. 6 years later (I'm 19), I'm preparing for my 3rd marathon. Being fat so young in life showed me how bad the quality of life is when you're double your ideal weight, and as I result I have an extremely high regard for fitness. I know that I will never be fat again in my life, and its a result of my childhood.

Posted by: Doug | May 3, 2006 12:56 PM

Kids want the good healthy choices that taste good too.

These food and beverage companies should be clamoring for the PRIVILEDGE to feed our kids because they will have customers for life if they do it right.

We have to enforce standards upon them because they will not unless it will make them money.

If we can make them do better, shouldn't we?

Posted by: Diana | May 3, 2006 1:03 PM

First of all, letting your child have soda is NOT child neglect! If you take away sugary drinks from children, it is all they are going to want. Instead, in moderation, children should be able to have soda. Taking them out of schools is a good idea since then, as parents, you can moderate the amount a child gets. But if you think this is going to solve the issue of obesity, you must be blind.

Posted by: Star | May 3, 2006 1:07 PM

First off let me say that I'm a 17 year old high schools student, at this age I am old enough to (A)drive a car,(B) have a pilots license(if I wished to) (C) Join the military (D) decide what college I will be spending most of the next four years at (E) Join the military, or (F) be allowed to marry in certain states. But apparently I can't be trusted with a can of Soda? would someone please explain this to me

Posted by: Mike Carver | May 3, 2006 1:14 PM

While removing the sodas is a smart idea (in my day only the senior lounge had a soda machine), the another problem that needs to be tackled is the overall fitness of kids these days. How many schools out there require 4 years of Phys Ed, and then how many students have it EVERY day? We're all so worried about preparing our kids for higher education and ensuring they are competitive academically, but all the smarts in the world won't do them any good if they don't have the fitness to live a healthy life. Let make them be kids. Send them outside to play on any day that isn't pouring rain or 30 below zero. When was the last time you saw kids playing a pick-up baseball or football game outside?

Now if we can regulate Nintendo/ Playstation and TV, we'd be doing something really smart.

Posted by: Craig | May 3, 2006 1:23 PM

Land of the free where you can be almost anything(except overweight).

Posted by: Ryan | May 3, 2006 1:38 PM

I am all for not allowing excessive sugar containing drinks in schools but, PLEASE have the schools either remove or post warning signs about the diet drinks which contain Aspartame. Aspartame contains 50% Phenylalanine. Phenylalanine is a hidden danger to anyone consuming aspartame. Most people don't know that too much Phenylalanine is a neurotoxin. There are over 92 different health side effects associated with aspartame consumption. It took me a little while to figure out that I exhibited syptoms associated with ADD/ADHD due to ingesting diet soda. I will never drink diet sodas again, prohibit my children from doing so and inform everyone that I can of the dangers associated with phenylalanine.

Posted by: Dale | May 3, 2006 2:20 PM

The positive here is that most bloggers are on the same page, the negative is that we are all (including me) wasting out time here rather than sending these smart and well articulated comments to our representatives in congress.

It is great to see the younger generation chime in to make some outstanding points. They are who we should be listening to and I challenge them to make their voices heard! The young adults that tell their story about diabetes because they were unaware about the nutritional value in a soft drinks, the one that offers to educate our youth to the health benefits of a "salad and a jog". Banning is hardly the answer. Teaching about health and nutrition is. Maybe even throw in a mandatory class on how to contact their delegates. Let's give the youth the tools to make their own decisions, not shelter them and say we are protecting them. They're bound to run into a "soda machine" as some point

Posted by: Dan | May 3, 2006 3:18 PM

I agree! Let's end the victim mentality in this country! I SUPPORT THE RIGHT OF YOUNG ADULTS TO DECIDE FOR THEMSELVES what they should put into their bodies. Enough of this ridiculous "social engineering" for children! This is why I additionally support supplying machines that dispense heroin, cocaine, cigarettes, knives, guns, deadly poisons, and prostitutes in our schools. Let the children decide what is best for themselves.

Posted by: The Nathan | May 3, 2006 5:06 PM

I'm guessing that the audience here is middle-class or well-to-do. Healthy foods cost more. Milk and juice are much more expensive than soda. If you want to force society to keep unhealthy foods away from children, you need more than a ban on soda and snacks in schools. Also, most people believe that moderation in all things is OK and soda for children is fine in moderation.

My daughter's school system is banning unhealthy foods. This means no cake or cupcakes for birthdays, no treats at Halloween or Valentine's day, no end-of-year party with food. Parents are not allowed to send food to school for anyone other than their own child. I think this is a little extreme.

Oh, and I'm not sure if there has been a decision on allowing candy to be sold for fundraisers, or hot dogs and soda at football games. The Boosters Club makes most of its money at high school football games. I would bring candy bars to the game for my children if they could only buy carrot sticks and celery.

If parents don't want their children to eat certain things, then pack their lunch and snacks. don't send money. What's next? Maybe vegetarians pushing to ban any sort of meat in school.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 3, 2006 5:22 PM

I wonder if they're doing this because the profit margins on bottled water are higher. If so, I don't blame them.

Posted by: William | May 3, 2006 5:33 PM

I have no problem with sodas being sold. I do have a problem with the even less healthy stuff sold in lunch lines. How about eliminating the greasy stuft crust pizza instead? Making it whole wheat doesn't make it a lot healthier.
Or even better, switch to all-organic ingredients. Oh wait. That would mean money that could go to building state-of-the-art office buildings.

Posted by: Conor Da Nuge | May 3, 2006 6:17 PM

If you "additionally support supplying machines that dispense heroin, cocaine, cigarettes, knives, guns, deadly poisons, and prostitutes in our schools" You should make an effort to educate young adults on the dangers of these things. Or spend your time writing cryptic sarcastic comments. I trust that you can decide for yourself.

Posted by: d | May 3, 2006 9:21 PM

Mighty Mike Carver said:

"First off let me say that I'm a 17 year old high schools student, at this age I am old enough to... (drive, die for country, pay taxes, etc.) But apparently I can't be trusted with a can of Soda? would someone please explain this to me?"

I'm all good with you exercising your free will to bring food or drink that you prefer from home, and parents as well, for a party or for their own child.

As a place of learning, and in some cases, the ONLY MEAL some children will get each day, the bar is higher for the SCHOOL.

The only way IMO to keep that quality is to make sure that everything or almost everything that is sold by the school (machine OR line) meets a healthful standard.

If you have a better idea, please step up.

Posted by: Diana | May 4, 2006 2:25 AM

Now if someone could get around to banning strawmen from blog comments...

Posted by: jw | May 4, 2006 8:42 AM

And for all those people out there saying, "We should allow our kids to make their own choices." Way to abdicate all responsibility as a parent and an adult! You don't put a chainsaw and a wiffleball bat on the table and then have a debate with your kid about the pros and cons of playing with chainsaws. Kids (especially elementary and middle-school aged) don't reason like adults. They don't understand consequences like adults. And if they can't figure out that using an umbrella as a parachute to jump out a second-floor window isn't a good idea, they certainly can't make an informed choice about junk food.

Posted by: jw | May 4, 2006 8:46 AM

Re: the school system that bans birthday cake and holiday treats, for God's sake, don't these people know how to make low calorie bakery goods? There are excellent cook books and recipes out there for cakes, cookies, yes cupcakes, made with no to minimal sugar, sometimes subbing unsweetened applesauce or pineapple for sugar. Most of the recipes are palatable enough for children and will pass muster at office parties. Parents of children with diabetes have coped for years with figuring out how to celebrate birthdays and holidays without a traditional bakery cake with 500 calories per piece. If you're just watching weight with no medical problems, there's low sugar carrot cake (made with low fat icing). Don't just ban foods in general, be creative. There are all kinds of low sugar and sugarless alternatives.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2006 9:00 AM

I'm amazed at how many people seem to think that it's better to give kids open access at school and let them decide whether to drink soda and eat candy.
When I was growing up (not that long ago), there wasn't a question: no soda or candy was available in elementary or middle school, high school students could purchase some snacks and beverages from the snack bar (but no soda, and no candy until after lunch), and the only soda machine in the building was only available when there was a sporting event after school.
Sure we could do whatever we wanted outside of school, if our parents let us. But at least for 6+ hours per day, 5 days per week, our food and drink options were not only relatively healthy, they also helped support the learning we were there for, rather than getting us so wound up on caffine and sugar that we couldn't sit still then crashing from the sugar high.

Posted by: amazed | May 4, 2006 9:34 AM

Re: the school system that bans birthday cake and holiday treats, for God's sake, don't these people know how to make low calorie bakery goods? There are excellent cook books and recipes out there for cakes, cookies, yes cupcakes, made with no to minimal sugar, sometimes subbing unsweetened applesauce or pineapple for sugar. Most of the recipes are palatable enough for children and will pass muster at office parties. Parents of children with diabetes have coped for years with figuring out how to celebrate birthdays and holidays without a traditional bakery cake with 500 calories per piece. If you're just watching weight with no medical problems, there's low sugar carrot cake (made with low fat icing). Don't just ban foods in general, be creative. There are all kinds of low sugar and sugarless alternatives.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2006 9:59 AM

I too grew up with soda, chips, cookies, in otherwords, lots of junk. I too played outside until dark. We did not have to worry so much about child predators in the 70s, things have changed. I allow my 2.5 yo and my 4.5 yo to have soda sometimes. Oh yes, at the Chik fil a, my friends just could not believe my kids were having coke. They did not believe that kids should have such high sugar items. I said, well for the 3 tablespoons they are actually drinking it isn't that bad. When we left the fast food place, I saw these moms had given their kids lollipops the size of their heads!!! So I guess sugar from a soda is much worse than from candy?
So when do we get rid of candy that isn't sugar free, french fries, pizza etc. People must be accountable for their own actions, ALWAYS. Pay higher insurance fees if you are obese. Don't make the rest of us suffer because you can't or are too lazy to control what your kids eat.

Posted by: Jen | May 4, 2006 12:56 PM

Here we go. "Food police." "Nanny state." Soooo predictable.

Posted by: SteveG | May 4, 2006 3:17 PM

What Jen and the others here are refusing to understand is that nobody is talking about "getting rid of" anything. Stopping the sale of sugar-laden drinks on school campuses does not in any way lessen the ability of children to drink them, if their parents approve.

It may, however, give parents more abiity to control what their children consume. Obesity is a very real problem, and childhood obesity is especially so. This will not solve the problem and nobody says it will. It may help, though, and certainly can't hurt.

We are not talking about adults with full adult rights here. We are talking about children, whose parents should be able to teach them how to think about nutrition without having their efforts undermined by a food industry determined to keep shoveling junk food down the kids' throats regardless of what the parents are trying to do.

Posted by: SteveG | May 4, 2006 5:15 PM

Most of the schools that ban parents from bringing cakes,etc., do out of a concern for allergins.

Posted by: Sue | May 4, 2006 6:07 PM

Aspartame may or may not cause cancer, the
recent study was basically found to be
flawed...despite what the headlines said,
it wasn't found "not to cause cancer".
Regardless, approximately 15% of the
population has serious allergic reactions
to aspartame. This was documented in the
original studies to allow its use in food.
I myself am allergic to it, and have met
many others that have the same allergic
reaction. In all cases of which I am
aware, the reaction is debilitating
migraine headaches. A little bit of diet
soda literally curls me up into a little
ball, I have to think to breathe it hurts
so bad. I'd prefer my children drink
regular soda and get some exercise.
Last, there really is no nutritional
difference between regular soda and most
fruit juices...

Posted by: jeff | May 7, 2006 12:46 AM

I agree with Lisa - why leave diet sodas in the High Schools? Diet sodas are even MORE harmful to us, because they contain Aspertame (more commonly known by its PR/Marketing names Equal, Nutrasweet, Equal Measure, Spoonful, and Canderal). Aspertame is especially harmful to children, whose brains are still developing - even in High School!

If they take out the sugared/regular sodas and leave the diet sodas, then that's just pushing the HS kids to purchase the EVEN MORE HARMFUL diet soda!

What is THAT about? Makes you wonder about the REAL agenda, here......

FYI, for more information about the harmful effects of Aspertame, and the government's documented history of complaints on its ill-effects, go to:

Posted by: DonnaM | May 8, 2006 1:09 PM

I think this is a good way to teach kids good eating habits and reinforce what they are hopefully being taught at home. I think restriction on beverage size and apple and grape juice are ridiculous. Fruit juices are good for everyone, and getting that specific in the legislation is a little nuts. The goal is to encourage kids to drink things that are more healthy, not turn them into health nuts - they're kids - juice is juice is juice. This anti-apple juice thing is overkill.

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