It seems for every stride forward we make in improving our children’s diets, we manage to take one step back as well.
It’s been wonderful seeing a decline in the availability of soda in our schools. It has no place there and offers no nutritional value to students anyways. However, while sodas are on the decline, children still have easy access to other high-calorie, sugary beverages, which often do just as much damage as that bottle of Pepsi or Coke.
The number of students that can buy soda at school has dropped by nearly 50 percent since 2006. But according to July’s issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, one-third of U.S. elementary students can still buy sugary drinks.
As reported by Reuters earlier this week, findings from a University of Michigan study determined that sports drinks were the most common sugary drinks found in middle schools and high schools.
So it seems our youngest students are still being offered some sort of juice drinks and the upper level students are being offered sports drinks, all of which are very high in calories and loaded with sugar. The juice drinks serve very little purpose in a person’s diet, especially if they’re not 100 percent juice. In addition, sports drinks are not recommended for anyone unless they are doing intense exercise.
But the fact remains that most school vending machines are stocked full of these drink options that are full of sugar and void of any nutritional value. While the USDA has been working to establish rules concerning food being served in schools, their rules do not govern vending machines. Some schools have voluntarily pushed for stricter health guidelines when it comes to vending machine contents, but it’s still not required of them.
It’s interesting in general how juice and sports drinks are viewed as a better option than soda. In reality, the contents are very similar. As a mother of a third grader, I know what happens to him when he drinks a sugary drink. I pitty the teacher who may end up with a classroom of kids on a sugar high.
While we’ve taken some notable strides toward making our schools healthier in the past, we are still far from the finish line yet.