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Have a Coke and a smile, but not at school...sort of

Posted Sep 14 2008 5:31pm

(Posted by Patrick Sullivan Jr.)

Atlanta Business Chronicle:

Coke and its peers to stop selling sodas in public schools

The Coca-Cola Co. and other beverage makers will no longer sell high-sugar sodas in most American public schools by the end of the decade under an agreement between the beverage makers, The Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the American Beverage Association.

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation -- a joint initiative of the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association -- has worked with Atlanta-based Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO), Pepsico (NYSE: PEP), Cadbury Schweppes and the American Beverage Association to establish new guidelines to limit portion sizes and reduce the number of calories available to children during the school day. Under the new guidelines, only lower calorie and nutritious beverages will be sold to schools, the alliance said.

The guidelines will cap the number of calories available in beverages in schools at 100 calories per container, except for certain milks and juices with nutritional value warranting the higher number of calories.

Elementary schools will only sell water, and 8 oz., calorie-capped servings of certain juices with no added sweeteners and servings of fat free and low-fat regular and flavored milks. Middle schools will apply the elementary school standard with portion sizes increased slightly to 10 oz. High schools will also sell no calorie and low-calorie drinks, such as bottled water, diet and unsweetened teas, diet sodas, fitness water, low calorie sports drinks, flavored water, and seltzers; as well as light juices and sports drinks.

The beverage industry will work to spread the standards to 75 percent of the nation's schools prior to the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year. The industry will try to fully implement the guidelines prior to the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year, provided schools and school districts are willing to amend existing contracts.

"Our broad product portfolio offers great taste, refreshment, hydration and nutrition, and we're pleased to use that portfolio to join the alliance in helping to reduce calories and increase nutrition in our schools," said Donald R. Knauss, president of Coca-Cola North America. "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."

I was excited to the read the headline because sodas are really so bad for you in so many ways. (Ascorbic acid, high fructose corn syrup, etc.) But then I read that diet sodas are apart of the "broad product portfolio" that will still be allowed, and that it won't take effect until 2010. So how is that headline accurate at all?

Second, why in the world are "calories" getting the bad rap? Calories are still a unit of measurement for energy, right? Kids need energy. Sugar and synthetic sweeteners are the real problem! Connie at the Sugar Shock Blog has some interesting insights on this situation here and here.

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