Sodas losing fizz in schools, but exclusive deals remain

New research from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows more than half of middle and high schools have purged the pop since the 2006-2007 school year. That year, 53.6 percent of high schools and 27.4 percent of middle schools gave students access to soda. In the 2010-2011 those numbers dropped to 25.3 in high schools and 12.5 percent in middle schools, reports Sarah Kliff for The Washington Post.
“You have policymakers at the state level, and also more local, moving policies into this directions,” said researcher Yvonne Terry-McElrath. “You have policymakers at the state level, and also more local, moving policies into this direction. I also think you’re seeing movement from parents and individuals who are becoming more aware of what is and isn’t healthy.”
That is the case in Kentucky. Under a state law passed a few years ago, students can only buy school-day-approved beverages — 100 percent fruit juice, lowfat milk and any beverage that contains no more than 10 grams of sugar per serving — during the school day. It may benefit reporters to ask school administrators though if there are vending machines at school that sell soda after the school day is finished, however. 

Though schools are getting rid of soda in high
numbers across the country, a lot of them still have relationships with Coke or
Pepsi, something reporters can find out by simply asking administrators.

Photo by Paul Robert Lloyd, via Flickr

A 2005 survey found nearly half of elementary schools and
about 80 percent of public high schools nationwide had pouring rights contracts with one
or the other of the soda companies, which gives them exclusive rights to supply
all the beverages in school snack bars, vending machines, school stores and at sports

The upside for the schools can include funding for field trips, gym uniforms, SMART boards and other perks, reports blogger Tom Philpott for Mother Jones. Philpott cites one study that shows students living in states with laws that limit junk food sales gained less weight — an average of about 2.25 pounds for a 5-foot child — than those that didn’t. A study in California showed students consumed 158 less calories each day in schools where sodas were banned and new nutritional regulations were implemented in cafeterias.

But one study of 20,000 students found no correlation between obesity rates and access to soda at school. “The research is pretty mixed,” Terry-McElrath said.

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