NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Should Schools Can Soda Sales?

February 3, 2004

The American Academy of Pediatrics is urging schools to banish sugary soft drinks in an effort to keep students from getting fat. One out of every six American children is overweight, and those who drink sweetened soft drinks generally are more prone to obesity.

In a policy statement, the academy says:

  • Soft drink consumption increased by 300 percent in 20 years, and serving sizes have increased from 6.5 oz in the 1950s to 12 oz in the 1960s and 20 oz by the late 1990s.
  • Between 56 percent and 85 percent of children in school consume at least 1 soft drink daily, with the highest amounts ingested by adolescent males.
  • Of those consuming soft drinks daily, 20 percent consume 4 or more servings each day.
  • Each 12-ounce sugared soft drink consumed daily has been associated with a 0.18 point increase in a child's body-mass index and a 60 percent increases in risk of obesity; each 12-ounce serving of the average soft drink contains the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar.

Change may be difficult because contracts with soft drink companies have provided schools with more than $200 million in unrestricted revenue. However, schools can still use vending machines, but they should preferentially vend drinks that are sugar-free or low in sugar to lessen the risk of overweight, says the academy.

The Philadelphia School District banned soft drinks in its schools in July 2003; the schools now sell only fruit juice, water, milk, and flavored milk.

Source: "National Briefing: Mid-Atlantic," New York Times, January 16, 2004 and

American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement, "Soft Drinks in Schools," Pediatrics, January 2004.

For AAP text;113/1/152


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