Former President Bill Clinton (left) was instrumental in striking a deal with Cadbury Schweppes, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and the American Beverage Association to change soft-drink policies at New York schools in an effort to combat childhood obesity—a major concern for parents who embrace organic living.The new guidelines limit school beverages to 100 calories per container, except for certain milks and juices. The beverage industry will work to implement these standards in 75% of U.S. schools before the 2008–2009 school year begins, with full implementation before the 2009–2010 school year. (School districts must be willing to amend existing contracts with beverage suppliers.)
“This is an important announcement and a bold step forward in the struggle to help America’s kids live healthier lives,” says Clinton, an Alliance leader.
Elementary schools will sell only water, 8-oz. calorie-capped servings of certain juices with no added sweeteners, and fat-free/low-fat regular and flavored milks. Middle schools will apply the same standards, with portion sizes increasing to 10 oz. Ditto for high schools, but they can also offer no- and low-calorie drinks, including diet and unsweetened teas, diet sodas, fitness water, low-calorie sports drinks, flavored water, seltzers and light juices (up to 12 oz.).
“This really is a groundbreaking agreement,” says AHA President Robert Eckel, MD. “Many school districts are headed in the same direction as our guidelines. We commend the many leaders and advocates who have fought for healthier school environments.”
But children’s nutrition advocate Ann Cooper believes we still face challenges: “Any agreement that limits high-fructose corn syrup and sugar and non-nutrient foods that are served in schools is good,” she told Associated Press reporter Karen Matthews, “but I don’t think it goes far enough.” Cooper would like to see restrictions on sports drinks and flavored milks.
Press conference photo: Gina Gayle/U.S. Newswire