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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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September 26, 2007

Surreptitious Soda Companies Still in Schools

By Mark Sisson
16 Comments

Syruptitious?

Beverage giants like Coke and Pepsi Co. have come under heavy fire from children’s advocates, health experts and parents alike in recent years. Perhaps one of the most controversial issues in the soda wars is the “sponsorship” many schools obtain in exchange for stocking the hallways with vending machines. Exploiting our children in order to cover costs has to be one of the most disgusting examples of Big Agra’s power over our next generation’s health. So when Coke, Pepsi and Cadbury Schweppes announced they were pulling sugary beverages from schools in favor of “healthier” options like low-fat milk, diet drinks, and 100% juices, it was a begrudging step in the right direction. We don’t drink milk in our family and I’m not in favor of sports drinks, diet carbonated beverages or juice drinks, but at least this move was a measurable improvement over cans of corn syrup-clogged soda. (Bill Clinton lauded it as “courageous”.)

Moving forward: the Times has investigated the aftermath now that the rosy publicity glow has died down. According to the article, soda would have been cut eventually anyway because of pending litigation; and sports drinks would have likely been removed as well. (So-called “performance beverages” are completely unnecessary for children – even those who play sports.) The real concern here is that the beverage companies quietly added a loophole a few months back for “other” sweetened – enhanced – beverages like Propel and Vitaminwater. While these drinks contain fewer calories per serving than many sodas, they’re still loaded with sugar and/or corn syrup. And although an 8-ounce serving can’t contain more than 66 calories if it’s to be sold in schools, what teenager is going to split the bottle 2.5 ways at the cafeteria table? It all amounts to business as usual, only now, it’s being done under the guise of promoting children’s health.

To do something about it, leave a comment here, then send an email to Coke, Pepsi, Cadbury, or your senators.

Further reading:

The Fattest States in America

Graphic: How Many Vending Machines Are in Schools?

– Photo from Inherit the Mirth

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16 Comments on "Surreptitious Soda Companies Still in Schools"

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Crystal
Crystal
9 years 5 days ago

School lunch is horrible. School breakfast is worse(pop tarts, doughnuts, french toast on a stick) What gives? Nothing is fresh or from scratch. My son tells me that his friends eat doughnuts and mountain dew from the vending machine for lunch. Hmmm, not very smart friends. The 9th graders feel special because they have their own vending machine room. Parents complain amongst themselves but no one is willing to really push the issue.

Oxybeles
Oxybeles
9 years 5 days ago
The machines do serve a purpose, even if they only sell bottled water, as the school districts obtain monies from Coca-cola and Pepsi. Extra funding for schools without raising taxes is not a bad thing. I remember back in my jr. high and high school days that the only machines on campus sold milk and fruit. However, the Student Store did sell candy at lunch. Today, in high school, students will leave campus and obtain their desired delectables off-campus. It isn’t the machine or the soft drink manufactures that are responsible, it is the proper health education from the schools… Read more »
Crystal
Crystal
9 years 5 days ago

Maybe going after pepsi and coke isn’t the best solution. We should start with our own communities and schools. I asked a manager at a local grocery store to carry some things that I wanted. He said, they only sell what people buy. From the looks of things, we’re in big trouble.

Lemur
Lemur
9 years 5 days ago
Vending machines full of junk are bad news no matter where they put them, I can’t ever recall seeing anything in any machine that was even remotely healthy. I hated the cafeteria lunches, the food was all gross & cooked to death. One school I went to even had it’s own Taco Bell area where they served a more limited menu than the regular restaurant. Common options in the lunchlady line included breaded chicken patties (the super processed variety, so far from “chicken” that ketchup actually improved the flavor), greasy pizza made with low quality ingredients, boring french fries &… Read more »
Lisa
9 years 4 days ago

This is terrible! Childhood obesity is something I really care about… but I don’t really know how to make a difference. What would I even write in an email to those companies?

Jess
Jess
9 years 4 days ago
I packed my own lunch through most of high school–sandwich, fruit, yogurt, chocolate. Occasionally, I bought soup, since it was one of the few reasonably healthy items the school couldn’t ruin. If I had to wait for a ride after school and was hungry, I stuck to pretzels and diet Coke–not the best, but far better than the Hostess or a Choco Taco (yes, there was an ICE CREAM BAR vending machine in addition to the soda and standard snack machine). I looked at all the kids with pizza, french fries, and Fruitopia on their trays almost every day, and… Read more »
Linh
Linh
9 years 4 days ago

EH? Vitamin water isnt good for you?? I’ve been drinking that stuff everyday since sophomore year now and I’m a freshman in college!

Sonagi
Sonagi
9 years 4 days ago
“Today, in high school, students will leave campus and obtain their desired delectables off-campus. It isn’t the machine or the soft drink manufactures that are responsible, it is the proper health education from the schools and the home that will adequately prepare the children.” This sounds ominously like the personal responsibility and choice arguments spun by food and beverage companies and restaurant associations. You can educate kids about good food all you want, but teenagers are teenagers. When they mob into Kroger’s at lunchtime, only the superdieting girls are going to head for the salad bar. Think about what you… Read more »
Dave C.
9 years 4 days ago
I have been eating in school cafeterias twice a week with two of my grand children for the last seven years. What I see on the trays around me astounds me. I can’t believe the stuff meets any standard nutritional guidelines–it’s certainly as far from Primal as can be. Time has a way of messing with our memory but I sure remember my school lunches (early 60s Catholic school)as being a lot more nutritious. I even remember having to use the old “stuff the broccoli in the milk carton” trick so I could throw the stuff away without being spotted… Read more »
Sara G
9 years 4 days ago

My college got a million dollars a year for 10 years for a contract with Pepsi to make all the cafeteria fountain drinks, vending machines, and 90% of store drinks Pepsi products.

The used the money for a field house… but at the time the students were really upset because of course their opinion wasn’t asked.

Shaping Youth
9 years 2 days ago
Shaping Youth just posted on how junk food is still prevalent in schools, partly based on the outdated USDA notion of what junk food “IS” by definition. Here’s a teaser: “Sublime in its simplicity, compelling in its story, Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has succinctly summed up the USDA nutrition guidelines as gobbledygook by dramatizing the absurdity of what is considered ‘junk food’ in schools. 5 questions. No big time zap. It’s a fabulous digital media use, worthy of a few “forward to a friend” challenges, among kids AND adults! C’mon, try it…you’ll LOVE this quiz.” They’re… Read more »
Jenn
Jenn
8 years 11 months ago

Sports Drinks and juices can be deceiving. I used to drink Vitamin Water regularly, thinking I was making a healthy choice- since I took a closer look at the label, and realized one bottle had 2.5 servings and loads of sugar, I haven’t had another.

Jessie
Jessie
8 years 7 months ago

A lot of drinks can be deceiving. I was buying Steaz which just came to our school because it had green tea in it. It would take a lot of green tea to justify drinking 35 grams of sugar in a can. another case of a loophole that policy makers didn’t close. And my friends don’t know any better… she thinks just because it is organic that it is healthy. Wake up and smell the diabetes.

Joe
Joe
8 years 6 months ago
Sugar is ok when moderated, but do drinks with added sugar belong in schools? Most of the industry leaders like cadburry, coke and pepsi are not selling carbonated , sugared beverages in schools. I am all for entrepreneurship, but shouldn’t all brands in the beverage industry, in an effort to show our industry the integrity it deserves, lead by example. It is important the beverage industry put aside our differences and stand together when it comes to the welfare of our children. So, if a product like Steaz sparkling green tea – which is going to be sold in schools… Read more »
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