Instead of actually trying to combat excess calorie consumption — the real root of obesity — health officials seem to be focusing their efforts on fighting the soda industry. Thus while carbonated sodas are increasingly being banned in schools, other high-calorie drinks seem to be immune to such proscriptions. For instance, a new study finds that half as many U.S. adolescents can now buy soda in school as compared to 2006. Yet other sugary beverages remain easily available on school grounds.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that over 55 percent of middle school students and 83 percent of high school students were able to purchase sports drinks during the 2010-2011 school year.
Such results reflect a trend as kids move away from traditional, carbonated soda to other drinks packed with excess calories. “Clearly, these bans are not made with the best interests of the student in mind,” says ACSH’s Dr. Ruth Kava. “Schools are banning carbonated beverages to fight the soda business, not childhood obesity. This is evident not only in light of the energy drink discrepancy: Consider for a moment that diet sodas, too, are typically banned.”
“It’s obvious that the soda-ban agenda is not genuinely interested in fighting childhood obesity,” adds ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross. “The ban on soda has had very little impact on this problem and, even worse, it has distracted the public eye from other factors causing childhood obesity, such as the dearth of physical education in schools.”