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.)