Western Kentucky University

Media Relations

Fewer U.S. students buy sodas, sports drinks still a problem-study

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Half as many U.S. adolescents as in 2006 can still buy high-calorie sodas in schools, but other sugary beverages remain easily available onsite, a survey showed.

University of Michigan Ann Arbor researchers found the trend in a survey of more than 1,900 public schools, which has grown as the institutions banish sodas from vending machines, school stores and cafeterias.

Older students who could buy soda in high school fell to 25 percent in 2011 from 54 percent in 2006, while access by younger middle school students fell to 13 percent from 27 percent, according to the study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

But fruit drinks, sports drinks and other beverages with added sugar and calories that could lead to obesity over time can still be bought easily in schools, the study showed.

U.S. high schools typically include 14- to 17-year-olds, while middle schoolers are generally aged 11 to 13.

"Public school districts really have been getting the message that regular sodas are not a good thing for our kids to be drinking," said Yvonne Terry-McElrath, the study's lead author and a researcher at the university's Institute for Social Research.

The results reflect a nationwide trend as consumers move away from traditional, carbonated soda to other, noncarbonated drinks that consumers view as healthier but that can still pack excess calories and sugar.

It also comes ahead of a long-overdue rule from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) over what kinds of food and drinks schools can sell outside the cafeteria. Another USDA rule on cafeteria foods earlier this year sparked controversy over its allowance of pizza - with tomato sauce - as a vegetable serving.

Children's access to soda is a major concern among public health experts who point to all sugar-sweetened beverages as a key source of excess calories that can cause childhood obesity. Such drinks should be banned in schools in favor of water, low- or no-fat milk and 100 percent fruit and vegetable juices with no added sugar, they say.

More than one-third of U.S. children are overweight or obese - a proportion that has tripled over the last 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academies of Sciences which advises the U.S. government on related issues, has already called for the elimination of regular sodas, allowing sports drinks only for certain student athletes, and limiting other diet or caffeine-free drinks to high schools students.

Another study in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine last month found one-third of younger students at U.S. elementary schools could still buy sugary drinks, University of Illinois at Chicago researchers said.

The University of Michigan study found sports drinks such as PepsiCo Inc's Gatorade and The Coca-Cola Co's Powerade are still a concern when it comes to older students.

More than half of middle school students (55 percent) and most high school students (83 percent) could still buy the drinks in the 2010-2011 academic year, which ended last June, it showed.

While that is a decline from 72 percent of middle schoolers and 90 percent of high schoolers in 2006-2007, the numbers are still too high, researchers said. Medical experts have said sports drinks should be limited to people doing intense exercise.

"In general, people still perceive sports drinks as a health option for kids," Terry-McElrath said.

USDA spokeswoman Regan Hopper said the agency could not comment on the study without an extensive review. Its regulation on so-called "competitive" foods was due in December 2011.

Critics blame growing pressure from U.S. lawmakers and beverage industry lobbyists for the delay. Hopper said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has asked for more time to review the proposal.

Beverage makers, including Dr. Pepper Snapple Group Inc, point to their voluntary guidelines limiting school offerings that they say have been effective.

USDA's pending rules are supposed to cover food and drinks sold in school vending machines, snack bars, school stores and cafeteria "a la carte" lines. In the meantime, some school districts across the United States have already sought to make voluntarily efforts to push healthier vending machine options.

The study was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a philanthropic organization aimed at improving U.S. health, and has a margin-of-error rate of about plus-or-minus 4 percentage points.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/07/us-usa-obesity-soda-schools-idUSBRE8751LT20120807

Categories
All News  Now Viewing Category: All
School of Journalism & Broadcasting
CEBS
Media Relations
Academic Affairs
Augenstein Alumni Center
Instruments of American Excellence
Transportation
Emergency Preparedness
Police
Department of Music
Department of Theatre & Dance
Library News
Office of Sustainability
Office of International Programs
Office of Research
Ogden News
PCAL
WKU Greeks News
WKU Parent and Family Weekend
Parent's Association
Student Activities and Organizations
Scholarships Student Financial Assistance
Student Government Association News
Van Meter Auditorium
Teaching News
Study Abroad
Student Research Council
Student Employment
WKU Joint Admissions
International Student Office
Human Resources News
Cultural Enhancement Series
CHHS News
The Confucius Institute
Campus Activities Board
GFCB
WellU
The Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky
Development and Alumni Relations
Downing Student Union
Health Services
Hardin Planetarium
News from The Center for Gifted Studies
Student Financial Assistance
Downing Museum
Etown & Fort Knox
Facilities
Employee Wellness
Latest Headlines
PTS Closed Wednesday July 23

Call 270-745-2361 or assistance.

Sixty Campers Attend 3rd Year of The Summer Camp

The Center for Gifted Studies at Western Kentucky University recently hosted 60 campers who attended The Summer Camp from July 14 to July 18.

Housing Premium Permits SOLD OUT

Add Your Name to the Wait List

Featured Articles
Sixty Campers Attend 3rd Year of The Summer Camp

The Center for Gifted Studies at Western Kentucky University recently hosted 60 campers who attended The Summer Camp from July 14 to July 18.

31st Year of VAMPY at WKU Hosts 217 Students

The Summer Program for Verbally and Mathematically Precocious Youth (VAMPY) hosted 217 students for the three-week program from June 22 to July 12.

165 Students Come to the 32nd Year of SCATS at WKU

The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU hosted 166 campers for the 32nd annual Summer Camp for Academically Talented Middle School Students (SCATS) from June 8 to 20.

 Last Modified 7/23/13