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Restricting Soda in Schools


The U.S. beverage industry has approved guidelines that would limit soda purchases in schools, but critics say the move would have minimal impact where the problem is worst—in high schools.

Under the guidelines, vending machines in elementary schools will no longer be stocked with soda. In middle schools, students would only have access to diet soda; in high schools, no more than half of vending machine selections can be regular or diet soft drinks.

Should schools prohibit soda sales? How has your school/district been affected by legislative crackdowns on junk food? What are some additional steps districts can take to fight childhood obesity? Let us know what you think.


I don't think sugar is as significant as caffeine.

I'd much rather see the soda machines limit the caffeine than the sugar, if given only that choice.

Ideally we'd limit both: Diet Soda with No Caffeine. 2 major factors out of the way, and healthier kids in the process.

(For the record: leave a caffeinated machine in the teacher's lounge--some days, I just need a fix! But then, I'm a adult)

The Beverage industry's "voluntary" limits are an obvious sham. First of all, very few elementary schools have soda vending machines. The goal of the industry is to fore stall pending legislation that would severly restrict or eliminate soft drinks on middle school and high school campuses. The middle school I taught at in Fresno, was the first school in the San Joaquin Valley to ban the sales of sodas, chips and candy, on campus. Student behavior improved and by selling healthier foods and drinks, we actually made more money than when we sold junk food.

Children should be given the opportunity to make decisions about what they choose to eat and drink. It is however, not the responsibility of the schools to give them the choice between good and bad. We can, and should, give them the choice between good and better. Educators have a responsiblity to stand up to the food and beverage industry and not to be seduced by the money. It is long past the time that we stopped subsidizing the schools on the backs of our students. We owe them more than that.

All K-12 students need access to healthy foods in school. Cutting soda from school vending machines or cafeterias is a good start. Rather than accentuate the loss soda, chips, and candy, schools need to provide locally grown, organic fruits and vegetables and offer whole-grain breads and other meals made from whole foods.
Salad material can come from the school garden with active involvement of teachers, parents and the larger community (community gardens, herb gardens, etc.).

I think that only the parents who offer their kids soda will actually suggest that the vending machines be left in schhols at the disposal of the kids.
Kids will eat what their parents offer them, but if you are an informed parent, you will not touch diet soda. These "Diet" stuff are laden with artificial sweetners known to damamge the kidneys after prolonged use.
So you see that while sugar leads to weight as well as diabetic problems, diet soda will not answer our qestion either.

So I'd suggest that you teach your kids to love WATER and in turn educate them on the demerits of sodas, in time they will stay away from any kind of soda!

By limiting access to FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP in schools just has people drinking more of it prior to and after school. Until America gets serious about FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP being in almost every processed food-type II diabetes and obesity will continue to rise. (Read the side of a yogart container) Oh, more PE movement and less seat time time help too. Sleep all night, sit on a bus, sit for breakfast, sit while waiting to go to class, sit in classes and lunch, sit on the bus, and go home and sit. Teaching preferences for movement have been eliminated from school curriculums and American society. Obesity will continue to get "BIGGER" children as long as society consumes fructose corn syrup and sits.

Obesity has reached an all time high in this country- everywhere you look, you see obesity and physically unfit children. In my view, educational facilities are for educational purposes, rather than a place to advertise commercial goods, such as snacks and soda.As educators, it is our job to model that which is good, not bad. Take vending machines out of the buildings, start providing healthy, low-fat,low carb lunches and place more water fountains throughout the buildings.
Breakfast and lunches in schools are sometimes the only place where a student can get a balanced meal -enticing students with junk food and drinks in school serves no real purpose other than financially for the school system.

Yes I think all sodas and junk food should be banned from schools. The crowd around our machines after school is overwhelming. Most of the students at these machines are on the free or reduced lunch program, they can't afford to buy the healthy food but they can afford to buy the junk and the sodas (which costs more than the lunch).

Schools need to promote a healthy lifestyle. Students and adults should have healthy food choices - not diet soda. Last but not least, schools need to provide required physical education at all grade levels.

Title 1 schools are required to remove all carbonated drinks from their campus. My school over the summer had all of its "soda" products removed and replaced by teas, water, gatorade, and the like. It has had a minimal impact on sales because that is all that is available. I agree that students are getting fatter, but so is America.

We all need more excercise and better eating habits. There is an interesting study published about the effects of having seperate gym classes. In short, girls got better excercise when they had gym class that was all women. We need to use the studies being produced to increase the amount of physical excercise.

It boils down to money. Schools make money on the machines. If local communities were willing to financially support schools more, through taxes or less formal means, the schools wouldn't need the machines.

And I do mean NEED. Our school system used the machine money to purchase 5 new buses that reduced rides to and from school by an HOUR! The county refused to approve a special temporary tax and the fundraising efforts fell dismally short. The machine money did the job.

It may boil down to money. As an obese adult I pass up on the sodas and many of the bad food choices in the lunchroom. Our school district has Sunday bingo to raise money for the athletic department. It's awful, but it raises money. We need to look at ways to raise money that don't help ruin the health of our students or foster gambling.

I think that we should expect grammatically-correct writing in a publication called Education Week. In "In middle schools, students would only have access to diet soda...", 'only' should follow 'access', since that's what it's modifying.
No wonder our students can't write.

It's possible to keep your vending machines and benefit from the needed revenue AND have healthier choices. Choose machines that are stocked with fruit juices and water, ---others with fresh fruit and cheese "sticks" etc., and believe it or not, the kids WILL still "buy." My high school did this in the 60's---YES, 60's and it worked.

Help! I need data showing that our school will not be destitute if we take the soda machines out. Does anyone have any such data?

1) As a parent, I am all for encouraging a healthier diet and reducing the availability of junk food in schools but removing only the "high fructose" products is not doing anyone a service, particularly those individuals who are allergic to artificial sweetners or those who have migraine headaches.
2) Encouraging healthy eating habits also requires that our students have enough time to not only make a healthy decision but follow through with it. At my son's last school, a good 80% of the food was wasted because students were not given enough time to eat. This lack of time problem often leads students to supplement their diets with prepackaged and convenience foods.
3) Furthermore, in our efforts to keep everyone safe, we have removed many of the playground activities and equipment which help to develop lean muscle mass such as domes, merry-go-rounds etc. Students at many schools are not allowed to play chase, climb on the tires, swing or do flips off the bars, etc. Gym teachers are limited in the scope of the things that they can have the students do due to a lack of equipment, time, and safety issues.

Soda and snack amchines have no use in schools, even if they do generate money. Trying to teach 9th grade science to students who have hit the vending machines for breakfast (in which their blood sugar has crashed shortly after) is impossible. When soda machines are present, students drink less water, which is critical for brain function. I have fought a losing battle for years trying to rid our schools of these machines, only to see the students suffer.

Two years ago I left a middle school where I had had a 30-minute lunch. I had been there 5 years, and at first I ate the school lunch out of neccessity. The first year there I gained 30 pounds! This was the only change in my diet, and I was walking a lot because it was a large school. I was told that snacks offered had to have only a 5% nutritional value, and that they served mainly chicken sandwiches, pizza, and fries because that's what the kids would eat. If we give them a choice, they will pick the junk; if it's not offered they will eat what's in front of them--but only if the vending machines don't offer something else either.

Clearly, sugar AND caffine, are proven, HARMFUL (physically addicting, along with; diabetes, obesity, mood swings, sleep problems, etc.). Considering the majority of consummed sugars in America are far from a raw form (highly refined products), this is not far from meeting criteria and classifcation as "a DRUG." This country isn't so concerned with what drugs you are addicted to; it's who's. Diabetes and obesity are reaching epidemic rates in the US, largely due to the lack of proper modeling, supervision, media influences, and sugar being placed in everything. The dental industry must love it, oh as well as Jenny Craig et. al.
To think of the best interest of our children verses that of industry/consumerism and money, would require a radical shift from the mentality and habits/addictions set forth and passed on beliefs and traditions that are common (and extremely dramic to the West) to "Westernized" cultures.

Education children and empowering them to make better decisions regarding fitness and nutrition is the best solution. Is banning soda and junk food the answer, NO. Does it help, yes. In the urban setting, children can go to the local small grocer for chips and soda.

As an outside, nonprofit organization we have been able to come into schools and provide a fun way to educate children on a weekly basis about how to (and why) make better decisions. In addition, we expose them to foods they've never were willing to try or never knew about via food tastings.

We have been successful in creating a healthly culture in school, thereby forstering behavioral changes and embracing healthly lifestyles (even with the teachers and administration). In addition to better food choices, the kids are get more active. It's cool to be healthy.

It seems a bit hypocritical to me. If schools really want to impact student health, they should take a look at the fat content and nutritional value in their school lunches.

Educators should “educate” and Parents should “parent”. Students should (by our example and teaching) understand that abuse is the problem. Infrequent or rare use of these items is the responsible way to “treat” ourselves to these indulgences. It is our responsibility to create responsible adults from the children in our care. Not prohibit them from making the correct decisions because we have eliminated the decision making process by eliminating all obstacles that could possibly harm our children. They need to learn how to make the right decision….education.

I look at a large number of schools and find that as student age increases so does cash and ability to use vending machines, both in and out of school. In my opinion vending machines do not belong in schools but until we have curbed both the students’ appetite for these items and provided funding that these items provide, we cannot consider ourselves responsible parents and teachers…..responsible.

Blaming the Administration or the Junk Food companies for my inability or ignorance is not what I will be teaching my children…..teach.

This is as much a home problem as it is a school-based problem. My first year of teaching involved educating a mother about "contents" of her son's lunch bag. He wasn't exposed to poor nutrition via the school, but by what his mother was packing in his lunch bag each day--chips, jelly sandwiches, candy bars and two cans of Surge (I don't know if Surge is even on the market today, but it was brand new when I was a first year teacher).

I also believe that we can do a better job of educating our students about proper nutrition. Based on my experience, I know that many middle and high school girls will opt to eat a bag of chips for lunch. A small bag of chips gives the illusion that one isn't eating very much, thus young girls associate eating little portions in general as a way to stay slimmer. I only know this because I've heard them speak about it. If we need to talk our students about what contributes to someone staying "slim" rather than the typical "...this is the food pyramid. You should follow it to in order to live a healthy lifestyle," in order to promote better eating habits (because they might actually listen and start practicing it), then let's start doing it.

I think that with half of the U.S. being overweight, schools need to do more than educate students about the dangers of overconsumption of sweets. They need to practice what they preach and develop some soft drink policy. This could include options such as: no soft drink sales during lunch, diet soda only options, or at least providing health alternatives in the vending machines such as fruit juices, vitamin water, or sports drinks (although they often contain sugar and are the worst beverages for teeth).

Here's how my children's high school addresses the issue: they only sell pop as fountain drinks and the students have to buy a full meal in order to get a pop. The lunch ladies are very good about sending them back - and the kids listen to them (although they might grumble!). They have choices for meals - there is a soup/salad bar, the regular hot lunch, the grill - usually burgers or chicken patties and fries available there, a pizza bar, and a make your own sub sandwich bar. There are also the various snacks and bottled drinks like juices, tea, and water - along with the milk cartons!

Yes, as a teacher, I like having a coffee pot and a coke machine available somewhere so that I get my caffeine fix!

I am all for cutting out sodas of everykind in schools. There is no redeaming value to a soda and we ALL drink too many anyway........let's go ahead and restrict them during school hours conpletely!

I am concerned that we tell children to eat a healthy diet and then provide access to sugar filled empty calorie drinks. The sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup intake in this country is contributing to obesity and diabetes. Even the so called fruit drinks contain high amounts of sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup. Children and teenagers as well as adults fill up on these drinks and then do not eat healthy food especially proteins so neccessary as brain food.

We need to help kids and teachers kick the soda habit. Diet soda is not the answer either. Sugar, caffeine, and sodium are way too high in most soda products and not good for our health. Drinking soda, diet or regular, tends to increase our craving for other unhealthy foods also. Let's get back to drinking WATER to quench our thirst. It will take awhile to conquer our sodaholic tendencies, but we cannot afford (money and weight) to go on the way we are. I don't mean bottled water either. What a waste of money and most often not any better or safer than tap water. There are people in parts of the world who do not have enough water to survive; yet we can spend upwards of $1 for 12 ounces of water! What a crime! Of course, maybe people should not live in areas of the world that cannot support the population...but that is a story for another day.

I totally disagree with vending/soda machines being in schools period. It doesn't matter whether it's elem/middle/or high school. I truly believe that it only increases childhood obesity. The caffeine, sugar and dyes have proven to be detrimental to overall health. Our children are having a difficult enough time focusing on education given all the other distractions they're faced with. In my building on one floor, I counted 15 soda machines that doesn't include the machines on the other three floors within the school. This is criminal and until parents and advocates speak up against it, our children will reap long term debilitating illnesses in the near future as a result of our silence. Giving children choices is one thing, but what we're actually doing is promoting unhealthy nutritional habits. We must do a better job and stop selling out to the "industry" for a few dollars that come with long-term consequences.

People only know what they are subject too, children are not any different. If they are shown a value for health/fitness/diet, this will become a part of their lifestlye. The reciprocal is true also. The children who are unfortunate enough not to have this healthy lifestyle demonstrated within their home(a large percentage)really need a healthy example set in the school where they spend a good deal of the day. The sooner these positive examples are set, the more likely they will be adhered to.

In reading many of the comments above it seems to be a concern on how the schools will continue to earn the revenue that the vending machines were providing. The Allow Card, an Allowance Card for teens may be that answer for some of you. We are working with schools across the country with our program of providing financial literacy lessons along with a pre-paid debit card that parents provide to their children. If the school participates in the program for every card that is purchased the school will earn revenue. If interested contact our office at 480-981-3434 or visit our web site at www.allowcard.com.

I teach in a private school and our policy is no soda or candy, except for birthdays and holidays. We created the policy because nearly 80% of our students have special needs, including a very large percent of students who have ADHD. We have noticed a major difference in the students' performance and behavior.

The Clark County School District in Las Vegas, NV removed high-sugar content beverage machines from all schools last year. It is a great way to put the onus on parents to determine what their kids may eat and drink. The school should promote a healthy lifestyle and allow students and parents to decide what they will bring in their sack lunches instead of allowing kids to make the decision on their own without any guidance.

The very presence of soda and candy/chip vending machines in schools is a sign of the lack of integrity and pro-child thinking in our public schools. We understand that our nation's general food supply is more and more unhealthy because it is controlled by food producers whose main incentive is profit (witness the widespread use of hydrogenated fats in processed food). Schools, however, should not be motivated by profit incentives. They should be making EVERY decision based upon the welfare of the children we entrust to them. Shame on those who are willing to abet the development of life-long disease in our kids to supplement their budgets.

Parents' Action for Children (a nonprofit founded by actor/director Rob Reiner) just launched "Stir It Up," a national parents' campaign to get junk foods out of our schools. Parents across the country are taking action. See www.stiritupamerica.com for more info.

Soda should definatly be allowed at school. The school I teach at has one day a quarter that all the kids in the school go out to the playground and buy snacks and drinks. When thay had soda at the school we made lots of profit now we sell horrid juices!!! And ended up losing money!!!!!! Thank you whoever ban them our school is poor also.

i don't think they should remove vending machines

There is no such thing as a good soda. All soda is bad for you be it regular or diet. It is not the sugar in soda as much as the "bubbly" that causes tooth decay and the degeneration of bones. In the high school athletic programs, bone breaks and fractures have quadrupled in the past 20 years. Between 40% to 60% of peak bone mass is built during the teenage years. Consumption of soft drinks affects both boys and girls. The acidic nature of the phosphoric acid in the drink causes the body to pull calcium out of the bones to buffer the acid. To learn about aspartame in diet drinks read ASPARTAME: WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW CAN HURT YOU. Any parent that still gives a child even one soda is an uneducated, lazy parent. The options for liquid consumption are vast. Do a little home work.

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