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Say no _ to soda: Industry should get sugar out of schools
[March 09, 2006]

Say no _ to soda: Industry should get sugar out of schools

(Dallas Morning News, The (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) The following editorial appeared in the Dallas Morning News on Wednesday, March 8:

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Is anyone really surprised by a Children's Hospital Boston study published this month in Pediatrics that reports the empty calories of sugary drinks like soda may be contributing to the obesity epidemic in our country?

Yes, some will still debate how big a role soft drinks play in our collective fat cells expanding at alarming rates. But whom are we kidding? And who would deny the two are linked? Between 1977 and 1997, soft drink consumption among kids more than doubled. So did obesity rates.

As President Bush points out, we've got a national health care crisis, exacerbated in great part by our unhealthy lifestyles _ more fat and less exercise.

What can we do? No doubt, nutritional education starts at home, with parents taking charge. If you don't put it in the grocery cart, your kids can't drink or eat it. Period.


But how do students ward off the temptation when they can easily get a fix at school, where parents aren't able to monitor their trips to the soda machine?

The Texas Department of Agriculture already has some good guidelines in place, such as not allowing elementary school students access to sodas and restricting high school and middle school students' purchases to non-mealtimes. In other states, soda vending machines will soon be a thing of the past.

With lucrative multiyear contracts, schools and big soda companies both take hits if we throw vending machines off campus. But schools have an obligation to teach youngsters good eating habits.

Just as important, if soda companies such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi voluntarily pull their sugar-laced products from schools, they will save money later _ in the form of health care programs that aren't swamped with patients who have diabetes and other costly diseases.

Yes, it's the responsibility of each of us to remember that diet has everything to do with health and that adults need to make sure our young people are eating smart. But it's also time for those with a hand in the sugar business to take action, too.

Otherwise, not even the best health care system in the world will be of any use to us.

___

(c) 2006, The Dallas Morning News.

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