Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Soda Wars In Our Schools: Enter The Lawyers

A syndicate of New York attorneys are set to file a lawsuit over the sale of soft drinks in public schools:
Stephen Gardner, staff lawyer for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, argues that soda and other sugary beverages are harmful to students' health and intends to file a lawsuit seeking to ban sales of sugary beverages in schools, according to a New York Times report Wednesday.

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and their local bottlers will be named in the lawsuit, the newspaper said.

But the $92 billion beverage industry, dominated by Coke and Pepsi, will not go down without a fight. Last week, the lobbying group American Beverage Association released a study arguing that soda sales in schools are not a significant contributor to rising childhood obesity rates, the newspaper said.

The study concluded that school vending machine sales fell 24 percent from 2002 to 2004 and that the average high school student consumes just one 12-ounce can of regular soda a week from school vending machines, according to the report.

"This study confirms what previous studies have shown: that consumption of full-calorie sodas purchased from school vending machines during normal school hours is a very minor source of calories in the diets of American youth," Susan Neely, president of the American Beverage Association, told the newspaper.

Seventy-five percent of all high schools, 65 percent of all middle schools and 30 percent of elementary schools have exclusive contracts with beverage companies, according to the Times, which cited a report by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.
Anyone who reads this site regularly knows that we're no fans of sodas for students in schools. (We think that pumping a 12-14 year-old kid full of sugar and cafeine while expecting him or her to sit still for an afternoon's instruction isn't a very realistic expectation.)

Having said that, we're disappointed that once again, we see yet another instance of a lawsuit being filed in order to get a court to make a decision that would better be made be by the elected school board.
See today's edition of The Carnival Of Education (guest-hosted by What It's Like on the Inside) right here. See our latest posts over there.