Healthier food and drinks are slowly finding their way into U.S. school lunchrooms, just under a year after leading companies first voluntarily agreed to ban high-calorie, low-nutrition products from schools.
These are welcome changes since 17 percent of Americans between the ages of 2 and 19, or 12 million of them, are overweight. But nutrition experts said the food and beverage industry needs to do more.
"There are definitely healthier products in schools (today) than three years ago," said Joy Johanson, a policy analyst at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a nutrition advocacy group that has negotiated with soft drink makers for healthier beverages in schools. "But there is still a long way to go."
The first big move toward healthy products in schools came in May 2006, when Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Cadbury Schweppes Plc, along with the American Beverage Association, established guidelines to provide more nutritious beverages at schools.