U.S. schools throwing the book at unhealthy drinks

By Kathleen Doheny, HealthDay Reporter
U.S.  schools throwing the book at unhealthy drinks
But 33% of elementary students still have access to high-calorie beverages, findings show.

(HealthDay) -- More U.S. elementary schools are banning unhealthy beverages from the premises, according to a new report.

Just one-third of students in U.S. elementary schools had access to and high-fat milk in 2010-2011, compared to 47 percent in 2007-2008, the report indicated. And less than 12 percent could obtain sugar-sweetened drinks at school last year.

"We are seeing some really encouraging changes in the ," said study co-author Lindsey Turner, research scientist at the Institute for and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago.

"They are removing sugary and high-fat milk," she said. However, "there is still progress to be made."

The report is published in the July issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

The researchers surveyed schools using criteria developed by the Institute of Medicine, an independent organization that advises decision makers. It recommends that beverages offered at schools -- through snack bars, vending machines or a la carte lunch lines -- be limited to water, 100 percent juice and nonfat or 1 percent milk.

It's hoped that restricting high-calorie beverages will help curb the nation's obesity epidemic. In 1980, 7 percent of U.S. children aged 6 to 11 were obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2008, nearly 20 percent -- or one in five kids -- were obese.

Obesity in childhood sets the stage for long-term, serious health issues, such as diabetes and heart disease.

For this report, Turner's team looked at the years 2006 through 2011. Among other findings, the investigators found the percentage of public grade-school students who had access to sugary beverages alone decreased from 17 percent in 2006-2007 to less than 12 percent in 2010-2011.

The percentage of public grade-school students who could buy only healthy drinks outside of school meals rose from 10 percent in 2006-2007 to 21 percent in 2010-2011.

The trend is positive, but "there is still a third of kids who have access to beverages that are not approved," Turner said.

The report covers only grade-school students. Information on middle and high schools is expected later this year, she said.

The data does not address unhealthy beverages that children drink at home or in restaurants, and other studies have found that bans on unhealthy drinks at school do not lower their overall consumption.

Commenting on the study, Tracey Halliday, spokesperson for the American Beverage Association, said the report shows that voluntary industry guidelines are working.

"In early 2010, our industry announced it had successfully implemented voluntary national School Beverage Guidelines, reducing beverage calories shipped to schools by a dramatic 88 percent since 2004," Halliday said.

In , the guidelines "removed full-calorie soft drinks and allow for only bottled water, low-fat milk and 100 percent juice in 8-ounce containers," she added.

Halliday called the guidelines for its member companies "an historic effort that was implemented in good faith as a result of a promise to change the school beverage landscape in our nation's schools -- and we delivered on our commitment."

Parents should know the beverage policies at their child's school, Turner said. If the school still provides unhealthy drinks, she suggests talking to administrators. Ask them to remove them, she said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is updating its nutrition standards for foods and beverages available in schools, is expected to release a proposal soon.

More information: For help discussing weight with your child, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Related Stories

Study: Middle school students prefer soda

date Oct 05, 2006

A Harvard School of Public Health study has found that children at Massachusetts's middle schools buy soda more often than other items from vending machines.

Recommended for you

Noise from fireworks threatens young ears

date 19 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The Fourth of July weekend is a time for celebrations and beautiful fireworks displays. But, parents do need to take steps to protect their children's ears from loud fireworks, a hearing expert ...

Many new teen drivers 'crash' in simulated driving task

date 19 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Around four in 10 newly licensed teen drivers "crashed" in a simulated driving test, suggesting that many adolescents lack the skills they need to stay safe on the road, according to a new study.

Insurer Aetna to buy Humana in $35B deal

date 21 hours ago

Aetna will spend about $35 billion to buy rival Humana and become the latest health insurer bulking up on government business as the industry adjusts to the federal health care overhaul.

Feeling impulsive or frustrated? Take a nap

date 23 hours ago

Taking a nap may be an effective strategy to counteract impulsive behavior and to boost tolerance for frustration, according to a University of Michigan study.

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Jul 05, 2012
I'm sick of the American mindset. I'm sick of a reductionist approach to everything. I'm sick of people talking ONLY about calories, or ONLY about carbohydrates, or ONLY about fat, or ONLY about protein. I'm sick of a perspective that tries to pigeonhole everything into a neat little box.

Nutrition is about more than calories, just like the human brainis about more than a single neurotransmitter. The human body, like all animal bodies, is as whole a complex organism that cannot be understood from the American perspective. I see that my culture wants everything to be easy and to put everything into a neat, clean, mechanistic box. Life doesn't work that way. Things are complex. Human bodies are complex. Nutrition is complex.

I'm glad to see American schools cutting back on high-calorie drinks, but that won't solve the obesity, diabetes, and other nutrition and exercise problems. We should stop tolerating stupidity and intellectual laziness, and accept that the problem is more complex.
Lex Talonis
Jul 06, 2012
Ahhhhh the merry jingle, from the scumbag advertising agencies employed by Coca Cola...

"Coke - Coke-a-Cola, Coke a Cola - adds life".

Coke adds death..... And don't you forget it.
Jul 07, 2012
"100% juice" could be (and probably will be) 100% grape (or apple, or pear) juice. Sugary water; no nutritional value, no fiber, and all that sugar we thought we were avoiding by banning soft drinks. The term "100 percent juice" is a food industry marketing strategy, intended to make consumers associate the product with "health".

I also question if regular (non low-fat) milk is a significant contributor to childhood obesity. Kids have been growing up on plain old milk for a long time. Health problems like obesity and diabetes are a recent phenomena.

And "bottled" water? - don't get me started.
Jul 08, 2012
Instead of solving problems they blame. How about letting children have longer recess? How about letting them play tag, how about allowing kids to run? Not only will kids be fitter, they will also need fewer drugs. Unfortunately as long as there are teachers unions, we will continue having stupid solutions to simple problems.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.