the soft drink industry's insistence to the contrary, mounting
evidence suggests that soft drink consumption, particularly
by children, is a leading cause of childhood obesity. Up to
85 percent of all children enrolled in school consume at least
one soft drink a day, and 20 percent consume a whopping four
or more soft drinks daily.
To combat the increase of childhood obesity and subsequently
improve the health of schoolchildren, the American Academy
of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released a policy statement outlining
ways to reduce or eliminate the consumption of soft drinks
in schools. Among the AAP's recommendations:
1. Pediatricians should work to eliminate sweetened drinks
in schools, and promote healthy alternatives, such as real
fruit and vegetable juices, water, and low-fat white or flavored
2. Pediatricians should push for the creation of a nutrition
advisory council at each school, composed of parents, school
and community officials, food service groups and health care
providers. This will help ensure that student health remains
the foundation of a school's nutritional policy.
3. School districts should hold public hearings before deciding
to sign any contract with a food or drink vendor. If a school
district already has a soft drink contract in place, it should
be modified so that it doesn't promote overconsumption by
4. The consumption of sweetened soft drinks in the classroom
should be eliminated, as should any advertising that promotes
How can parents help? By making sure their children have
limited access to soft drinks and sweetened beverages - at
school and at home. Take those bottles of soda out of the
refrigerator and replace them with 100% fruit juices, which
have the vital nutrients growing kids need - and far less
of the corn syrup, sugar and other empty calories found in
sodas. They may complain a bit, but in the long run, they'll
probably thank you for it.
American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on School Health.
Policy Statement: Soft Drinks in Schools. Pediatrics
January 2004;113(1), pp152-154.
Find out more about pediatric health at www.chiroweb.com/find/archives/pediatrics.