Drink makers pulling sodas from schools
Companies agree to cut back on sugary beverages in agreement to reduce childhood obesity.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - The nation's biggest beverage makers have agreed to end sales of nearly all sugary sodas to public schools, a group led by former President Clinton announced Wednesday.
Under the new guidelines, the companies will sell only bottled water, juices with no added sweeteners and fat-free and low-fat milk products to elementary schools and middle schools.
At high schools, at least half of the beverages offered will be water or low-calorie, but they can also offer juices and diet soda.
Coca-Cola (Research), PepsiCo (Research), Cadbury Schweppes (Research) and the American Beverage Association have all agreed to the new guidelines, a move that affects nearly 35 million students across the country, from elementary through high school.
"This is an important announcement and a bold step forward in the struggle to help America's kids live healthier lives," former President Clinton said in a statement. "These industry leaders recognize that childhood obesity is a problem and have stepped up to solve it."
The deal was made between the beverage companies, the association and Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a joint venture of the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association.
The goal of the alliance is to decrease childhood obesity by reducing excess calories and increasing calories burned.
"From a financial perspective, beverages sold in school vending machines account for only one percent of total volume," said John Sicher, publisher of Beverage Digest. "This is a lot more about the beverage companies showing that they understand there are issues with the diets of young people and deciding to be part of the solution."
The guidelines cap the number of calories available in beverages in public schools at 100 calories per container, except for certain milk and juice products with higher nutritional value.
Donald Knauss, president of Coca-Cola North America, said, "By combining our product offerings with the nutrition and physical education programs we support, we can help put schools at the forefront of the efforts to create a healthier generation."
The agreements comes after school districts and states moved to cut back on soda and other sugary drinks in schools due to concern about rising obesity among children.
Soda has been targeted by critics who say its high-sugar content provides little nutrition even though the drinks are popular with kids.
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