The American Academy of Pediatrics started 2004 with a policy statement urging that soft drinks be eliminated from schools as an important step in turning the rising tide of childhood obesity. Pediatricians and parents can contact their local schools to weigh in on this issue. Soft drink vending machines are common in schools. Most school-aged children in the U.S. drink at least one sugared soft drink daily.
These sweetened drinks (sodas and fruit drinks) are the number one source of excess sugar in children’s diets. A single 12-ounce can of soda might contain the sweetening equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar, often in the unnatural form of high fructose corn syrup. The Academy suggests schools might supplement their income by vending water, real fruit juices, and low-fat milks instead. Soft drink manufacturers feel that soft drinks are being unfairly targeted. Of course, soft drinks are only one piece of the obesity puzzle. But I am pleased that the AAP policy recognizes the importance of what kids drink in their overall nutrition, and the importance of what kids eat and drink at school in their overall health.