Question of the Week

May 8, 2006


Grabbing a soda from the vending machine at school may get more difficult for many students in the near future.

"Regular sodas will disappear from many US schools under a new agreement announced Wednesday [May 3, 2006] by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. ... The effort is part of a plan to address obesity among American youth, which has skyrocketed over the past 20 years. 'This is an important announcement and a bold step forward in the struggle to help America's kids live healthier lives,' said former President Bill Clinton. His William J. Clinton Foundation created the Alliance in partnership with the American Heart Association. The soda deal was crafted with beverage companies Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Cadbury Schweppes, and the American Beverage Association."

The vending machines will still be there, so what does this new deal really mean for thirsty students?

"Under the agreement, high schools will still be sold low-calorie drinks that contain less than 10 calories per serving, as well as drinks that are considered nutritious, such as juice, sports drinks and low-fat milk. Whole milk will no longer be offered to any schools because of its calorie content, Neely said. School sales of those kinds of drinks have been on the rise in recent years, while regular soda purchases by students have been falling, according to an ABA report released in December. But regular soda, averaging 150 calories per can, is still the most popular drink among students, accounting for 45% of beverages sold in schools in 2005, the report said. ... The companies agreed to work to implement the changes at 75% of the nation's public schools by the 2008-2009 school year, and at all public schools a year later.",0,559069.story?coll=la-home-health

As this deal becomes reality, school vending machines will replace full-calorie sodas with "drinks that are considered nutritious, such as juice, sports drinks and low-fat milk."

Many agree: something must be done.

"The soda deal, in the meantime, will affect at least 35 million school-age children, and by any measure it comes none too soon. Two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese, and so are a shocking 17% of kids, with another 15% at risk. Children who start life fat often stay that way, with all the attendant health consequences. Kids as young as 10 are turning up with obesity-related Type 2 diabetes, which used to be known as the adult-onset form of the disease. The Clinton-backed plan would cut off a significant part of the sugar stream that's causing those problems. 'This one policy can add years and years and years to the lives of a very large number of young people,' Clinton said after the deal was announced.",9171,1191823,00.html

"This one policy can add years and years and years to the lives of a very large number of young people..."

The intentions are good.

"The report indicates that dairy foods provide the best source of calcium. Seventy-two percent of dietary calcium in the U.S. food supply comes from milk and other dairy foods. In addition to calcium, milk is the number one source of several other key nutrients in the American diet, including potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. In fact, the 2005 dietary guidelines Advisory Committee, appointed by the USDA, recognized that people who consume more dairy foods have better overall diets, consume more nutrients and see improved bone health. Not surprisingly, research has shown that children who regularly avoid milk have lower bone mineral density and have more bone fractures."

Most will agree that milk is a healthier choice than soda, but too much of anything can be problematic...

"After compensating for physical activity, maturation and height growth, the researchers found that those boys and girls who drank more than three servings of milk a day were 25 percent more likely to become overweight than those who drank two to three servings a day. ... Most children, according to Segrave-Daly, drink less than one glass of milk a day. Berkey said the weight gain appeared to result from the calories in the milk rather than something particular to the milk itself. ... Surprisingly, almost all the children in the study drank low-fat milk rather than whole milk, and the authors believe that estrone and whey protein in dairy products may cause weight gain. ... 'The bottom line is still the calories, but the question is whether calories from different sources are healthier -- and this study doesn't change thinking about that,' she said."

As is the case with milk, most will agree that juice is a healthier choice than soda, but it is also not the perfect drink -- and five servings of juice is not the same as eating five servings of whole fruit.

"Juice contains a small amount of protein and minerals. Juices fortified with calcium have approximately the same calcium content as milk but lack other nutrients present in milk. Some juices have high contents of potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C. In addition, some juices and juice drinks are fortified with vitamin C. The vitamin C and flavonoids in juice may have beneficial long-term health effects, such as decreasing the risk of cancer and heart disease. ... Nevertheless, it seems prudent to limit juice intake to two 6-oz servings, or half of the recommended fruit servings each day. It is important to encourage consumption of the whole fruit for the benefit of fiber intake and a longer time to consume the same kilocalories. Excessive juice consumption and the resultant increase in energy intake may contribute to the development of obesity.";107/5/1210

In addition to milk and juice, bottled water and sports drinks will still be sold in schools...

"Bottled waters and sports drinks are a multibillion-dollar industry, but ABC News' medical contributor Dr. David Katz says these drinks offer little more than extra calories, sugar and sodium to our diets. Katz reviews the winners and losers of sports drinks and fortified waters. ..."

Questions of the Week:
How will the new beverage distribution agreement affect what you drink? How will it affect others in your school? What effect do you think the changes will have on the overall health of the children and teens who attend the affected schools? How would you educate your peers about the importance of moderation, even with drink options that are considered healthy (or healthier)?

Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.

I look forward to reading what you have to say.

Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum

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