I recently heard that the superintendent of a large school district signed a contract with Coke, which would allow soda, sugar water and other drinks into the 72 schools of the district. The district has over 80% Free and Reduced students, is demographically diverse and mostly poor – an extremely “at risk” community. Given that the district is one of such need, I can understand why the superintendent would feel the need to take a soda companies’ money, however the part of the story that really raised my ire was his statement that Bill Clinton’s Alliance for A Healthier Generation, had “approved” the offerings that Coke would be supplying to these children.
I went back and looked at what the guidelines allowed and found that “sugar water” is allowed with up to 66 calories per 8 ounces as well flavored milk with caloric content of up to 150 calories per 8 ounces. These types of guidelines promote excess sugar consumption and are teaching a generation of children that water (a necessity of life) is sweet and that milk should taste like a dessert. Just imagine that your child only drank “sugar water” and for every glass, they consumed 66 hidden calories and if the only milk your child drank was chocolate or strawberry and hence consumed 40 – 50 more calories than if they consumed a low-fat alternative. If you did the math, you’d find that if your child consumed either of these alternatives (never mind both) that they would consume approximately 6 ½ pounds of additional sugar per year!!
This is such a travesty when seen in the light of our Nation’s obesity crises. The CDC has reported that almost 70% of all Americans are overweight or obese and in children the number is rising over 30%. In the case of the school district in question, the need of additional funding that our government is incapable of providing, places the soda companies in the all too willing and able position of doing so – in exchange of course for the future health of our children. And, if this situation wasn’t enough of a moral dilemma, then we just need to look back to Clinton’s Alliance for A Healthier Generation, who blesses the entire debacle.
I’d like us all to ask ourselves the question, “Why Do We Need To Sell Our Children Soda” and further why is a former President’s non-profit promoting it? We are in the throes of a public health time bomb in the form of this obesity crisis, which the CDC says will result in the children born in the year 2000, being the first generation in our country’s history to die at a younger age than their parents. With this crisis, in conjunction with President Obama’s statement that our Health Care system is on the verge of bankruptcy – perhaps we as a Nation need to demand that our children’s education is funded in a way that doesn’t mortgage their future health!
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