Thursday, May 04, 2006

"Canned" Cokes on Campus

By now, you may have read that the nation's largest beverage companies will stop selling to public schools by the end of the decade. Elementary and middle schools will only get water, unsweetened juice and low-fat milk, and high schools can also sell diet soda, diet/unsweetened tea, flavored water and low-calorie sports drinks. The stated reason for the agreement is the effort to combat childhood obesity. But will it work?

I don't really have a proverbial dog in this fight; I haven't bought a soda in school in years, except by accident (i.e. if I put my money in the machine for a water, but water was sold out and it wouldn't give me my change back); if I have a soft drink at all, it's usually a Dublin at home or a rare DP at lunch. This new policy might actually benefit me if it means that more machines will be turned on during the school day; in middle schools, as it stands now, I have to hope that one of the water/juice machines is there, or I can't even buy water out of a "mixed" machine before two o'clock in the afternoon.

But my question is, will simply cutting off access to the product actually keep kids from being overweight? This seems a lot like the mentality of blaming McDonald's for the same problem. Perhaps it might be even more beneficial to ensure that students have P.E. class or recess more often during the day (I've heard that funding shortfalls have cut this down to two or three days a week in some areas). It seems easy to make a sixteen-ounce scapegoat out of what comes out of a machine rather than putting the onus on parents and schools to ensure that kids are getting enough physical activity during the day.

And here's an interesting side topic: Let's assume the kids do switch from sodas to juice or water (I'm assuming that the diet sodas won't be so popular, because, well, eww...not to mention that a lot of people, myself included, can't process NutraSweet). Will the lack of caffeine and sugar suddenly cause them to fall asleep in class more often? I see the potential for a big Starbucks market here...

The neighbor has an unsightly weed problem: The owner of a house in Connecticut has agreed to remove the cannabis leaves painted on the side of the house after multiple complaints from neighbors. (Incidentally, he also got busted for growing the stuff in his house, which, coincidentally, is on High Street. Heh.)

9 comments:

Ratspit said...

Heaven forbid the machines should be taken out altogether; then there would be no "athletics money from DP" or whomever the contract is with. But I think they really don't need to be there anyway. I agree with you that no machines don't make healthy students. It certainly wouldn't hurt for the cafeteria menus to have more than just grease on them and as you pointed out, PE classes. I'll not go into the cliched "when I was in school" but it was different and we were healthier! And gee, maybe good eating habits start at home???

Eric Grubbs said...

Elementary school kids will be hyper with or without sugar in their systems.

Shawn said...

In Liberty high school, they have them shut off until after school. Fat kids. And it's Pepsi.

Anonymous said...

i dunno, as someone that has given up soft drinks several times, i know for a fact that i feel about 10,000 X healthier whenever i'm not drinking soft drinks. As far as whether or not taking them out of schools entirely is the answer, i'm not sure, but it might be a good way to get some peoples attentions, soft drinks seriously are terrible for you.

Colin

Shawn said...

By the way, a new Starbucks opened down the street from school. Just in time for the Senior's last 7 days of school.

Gary P. said...

i dunno, as someone that has given up soft drinks several times, i know for a fact that i feel about 10,000 X healthier whenever i'm not drinking soft drinks.

I don't know if I have the desire or the willpower to quit them altogether, but I've recently cut back from as much as 6-8 cans a day to 2.... one with breakfast and one with dinner, and replacing the rest with water. I may eventually drop the one with dinner too, but I don't know if I'll ever be able to give up that morning fix of caffeine!

I feel more alert too without all the soft drinks and my weight loss that had been stalled at 30 pounds for a couple of weeks is now up to 35.

Jazzy G said...

6-8 cans, Gary?! Wow. I think I'd die if I drank that many sodas in a WEEK. I guess I'm one of the lucky ones who prefers water/tea/coffee over soda.

When did they start selling sodas in Elementary schools? That's crazy.

Kev said...

" In Liberty high school, they have them shut off until after school. Fat kids. And it's Pepsi."

Shawn--like many Texans, I was using the term "Coke" generically. You'll notice that when you're down here--"Coke" refers to any soft drink in the same way that "Kleenex" refers to any brand of facial tissue and "Thermos" refers to any vacuum bottle.

But I used to work at a place that served Pepsi, and we had to gently correct any customer who asked for a Coke.

Gary--congrats on the weight loss. 6-8 cans...whoa. I don't think I hit quite that many even in the pre-Starbucks days. And while the emergence of Dasani has made me a "water snob," it's far better for me to carry a bottle of that around all day than anything else, and I don't have to worry about blowing sugar through the horn either.

Gary P. said...

When did they start selling sodas in Elementary schools?

Probably the same time Coke, Pepsi, et al started giving a cut of the proceeds to the schools who are always looking to milk any revenue stream they can. At least it's not as bad here as it is now where I grew up... where all the schools are "partnered" with local businesses who give money in exchange for ad space on the "Welcome To _______ School" sign out front and links from the individual school web sites. ::barf::

6-8 cans...whoa. I don't think I hit quite that many even in the pre-Starbucks days.

Yep. I used to down 3-4 a day at work, one sometimes when I got home, one with dinner, then one or maybe two more before bed.

Now they've (almost) all been replaced with water with the Crystal Light orange juice flavoring mixed in. I like OJ, but the citric acid gives me bad mouth ulcers (not good for trumpet playing!) so this is a nice fix.

As of about a month ago, I was down about 30 pounds from where I was at the end of last year but had stagnated there for 2 or 3 weeks. Two weeks of trading Diet Cokes for water since then and I'm down 5 more pounds and back on the downward slope! I also had to take a week off from my MMA class about a month ago after hurting my knee, but I'm back on the mats again now!