US Schools Soda Ban Fails to Impress

23 August 2005

Health professionals and nutrition activists in the US are skeptical of moves by the American Beverage Association to curb soda sales in schools.

The new voluntary policy, announced with much fanfare last week ("After all, everyone wants happy, healthy kids") - decrees that companies such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo will not sell regular soda, diet soda or sugary drinks in elementary schools.

Regular soda will be sold in middle schools only after school hours and will comprise no more than half the vending machine selections at high schools.

However, critics say the policy does not go far enough. A majority of high schools - where most sodas are purchased - already meet the new guidelines, which do little to tackle the nation's obesity epidemic. In addition, most drinks firms already refrain from selling sodas to the youngest school students.

Margo Wootan, director of nutritional policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest argues that "... the policy effectively does not address high schools at all because it won't affect the status quo."

She also points out that 'healthy' alternatives to sodas now on offer, such as fruits drinks and iced teas, are nothing more than "soda without the bubbles".

Counters the ABA: "Unlike younger children, who may need the guidance of an adult to help them make choices, parents tell us they believe high-school-aged children have the ability to make informed choices."

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff