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Schools' Sugary Drink Bans

Schools' Sugary Drink Bans

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Portland, Maine bans soda and Colorado schools switch to sports drinks

Soda bans, sugary drink taxes and sports drinks debates have been hot topics for Summer 2012 and show no signs of abating in fall. Portland, Maine just announced a pan-public school proscription on the sale of soda and schools in Grand Junction, Colorado are trading their soda for sports drinks.

Prohibiting the sale of sugary drinks on school property isn’t a new trend, but in a country where the majority of public schools still receive subsidies from soda conglomerates, it’s a bold move. Students, staff, and visitors won’t be able to buy sugary drinks or food on school grounds or at school sponsored events or field trips. That means no cans of coke at the football game and no cookies sold at PTA bake sales. Chandra Turner, the public health coordinator for Portland’s schools, told The Portland Press Herald that, “the policy doesn't prevent a student or teacher from bringing a soda to school. They just won't be able to buy one from a machine.”

Schools in Colorado’s 51st district are taking a different approach to reduce the amount of fizzy drinks sold on school property; they’re removing all soda and replacing them with sports drinks. Parents and kids appeared, on the whole, supportive of the removal. One parent told the local news channel, “Anything is better than soda, so I would say having the sports drinks is better than soda.” That doesn’t mean that sports drinks will be available to all students. Elementary schools will only provide milk and water, middle schoolers will have access to juice, and high schoolers can purchase either V8, vitamin water, or Powerade. Although the state established a mandate a few years ago that removed high calorie drinks from state schools, many schools have yet to implement changes.

Soda ban rejected for NYC: So are soft drinks good for you?

What does Mayor Bloomberg have to say about soda, soft drinks and sugary drinks&rsquo health risks these days? His proposed ban on Big Sodas for New York City fizzled out like a can of ginger ale gone flat. But people are still wondering: Does this mean sugary drinks are good for us?

The state&rsquos highest court refused to reinstate the city&rsquos controversial limits on sales of jumbo sugary drinks a year ago this June, quashing the hopes of health advocates who want governments to curb the consumption of drinks and foods linked to obesity.

But Bloomberg and soda will be forever linked. He put up a fight for public health and had powerful beverage companies on red alert, fearing their products would be forever tainted. The controversy also sparked a global debate over soda consumption and sugary drinks&rsquo health risks.

High-sugar content in flavoured milk

Flavoured milk generally has a high sugar content. Source: Shutterstock

“Childhood obesity is a rapidly worsening epidemic in the US,” notes one study .

Quoting the Department of Health, CBS New York noted that four in every 10 elementary school children are overweight or obese.

“The department has been in favor of the ban for quite some time now, posting on its website that children who drink chocolate milk twice a day consume about 80 grams of sugar each week. That adds up to six pounds of sugar a year,” said the report.

Meanwhile, according to reports, some brands of flavoured milk contain a higher amount of sugar than soda. In Australia, an analysis by LiveLighter found that more than 90 brands of chilled flavoured dairy milks contain more than a whole day’s worth of added sugar.

LiveLighter Campaign Manager and registered dietitian Alison McAleese was quoted saying: “Given the size of some of the flavoured milk drinks sold in store, you could be consuming more than nine teaspoons of added sugar in just one drink – that’s almost as much as a can of cola.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends no more than six teaspoons (about 25 grams) of added sugar in a day.

“You would never add nine teaspoons of sugar to milk yourself, so understanding the huge sugar content of these drinks should come as a wake-up call to consumers and help with changing habits. For many workers and students, morning tea includes a stop at the nearest convenience store or servo for an iced coffee or chocolate milk.

“These drinks may seem like an easy go-to option, but we want people to realise they could easily be knocking back an entire day’s worth of sugar with just one drink,” she said.

Studies, like this one , have suggested that high sugar consumption, including in beverages, is linked to increased risk of early death.

Meanwhile, WHO notes that “noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are the world’s leading cause of death: they were responsible for an estimated 41 million (73 percent) of the 56 million deaths in 2017.” They added that “Modifiable risk factors such as unhealthy diet and physical inactivity are some of the most common causes of NCDs, including obesity.”

Public Health Concerns: Sugary Drinks

Americans consume on average more than 200 calories each day from sugary drinks (58,59)—four times what they consumed in 1965 (60)—and strong evidence indicates that our rising thirst for “liquid candy” has been a major contributor to the obesity and diabetes epidemics. (41,46,52-54,61)

Taking action against sugary drinks

Research shows that sugary drinks are one of the major determinants of obesity and diabetes, and emerging evidence indicates that high consumption of sugary drinks increases the risk for heart disease, the number one killer of men and women in the U.S.

Reducing our preference for sweet beverages will require concerted action on several levels—from creative food scientists and marketers in the beverage industry, as well as from individual consumers and families, schools and worksites, and state and federal government.

We must work together toward this worthy and urgent cause: alleviating the cost and the burden of chronic diseases associated with the obesity and diabetes epidemics in the United States.

Here are steps that each of these groups can take to address the issue:

Beverage manufacturers: Create beverages that have much less sugar.

Beverage manufacturers can make it easier for everyone to drink more healthfully by creating beverages that are less sweet. A good target: Beverages that have no more than 1 gram of sugar per ounce, and are free of non-caloric sweeteners (such as sucralose, aspartame, or stevia). This is about 70 percent less sugar than a typical soft drink.

We also encourage beverage manufacturers to offer smaller (8 ounce) single-serving bottles of sugary drinks, and encourage their sales channels to stock these smaller-sized bottles. If you read the fine print on the Nutrition Facts label, you’ll see that a standard serving of soft drink is 8 ounces, and that each 20-ounce bottle contains 2.5 servings.

Individuals: Make healthy drinking your personal priority.

Start by choosing beverages with few or no calories. Water is best.

  • Ask food companies to make sugar-reduced beverages, by calling their customer service numbers, or sending them a message on their Web site comment forms.
  • Ask schools and workplaces to offer filtered water or functioning water fountains.
  • Ask your local stores, schools, and workplaces to carry 8-ounce or 12-ounce containers of sugary drinks, to make it easier for you to choose a smaller serving.

It is also wise to wean yourself off of artificial sweeteners because of the unanswered questions about the relationship between diet drinks and obesity.

Food shoppers for the family: Don’t stock sugary drinks at home.

Nationwide data show that children and teens drink most of their sugary calories at home, so parents can help kids cut back by not stocking soda, fruit punch, or other sugary drinks in the house, and making them an occasional treat rather than a daily beverage.

Schools and workplaces: Offer students and workers several healthy beverage choices.

Healthy choices for school and workplaces include water and reduced-sugar beverages, as well as single-serving or 12-ounce containers. Schools and workplaces should also make sure that they have functioning water fountains or filtered water available.

Government: Require better labeling on sugary drinks, and scrap sugar subsidies.

The FDA should consider requiring companies to list the number of calories per bottle or can—not per serving—on the front of beverage containers. It should also consider creating a new labeling category for low-sugar beverages.

Under current labeling regulations, a beverage can be marketed as “reduced sugar” if it contains 25 percent fewer calories than the standard version of that beverage. (62)

A better threshold for low sugar beverages would be 1 gram of sugar per ounce, which is about 70 percent less sugar than a typical soft drink. Sugar-added beverages with more than 50 calories in an 8-ounce serving should carry a warning label about obesity and diabetes.

Government: Implement a soda tax.

Sugared beverages are categorized as food under the food stamp program and thus not taxed in some states. Yale researcher Kelly Brownell makes a strong argument for taxing sugary drinks in the New England Journal of Medicine. (63) Since sugared beverages carry no nutritional value and pose health risks to a consumer, many public health advocates have argued that it is logical to tax them like cigarettes or alcohol.

Government: Regulation of marketing to children.

Regulating advertising of sugary drinks targeted towards children – a vulnerable population – through television, the internet or other media is an important strategy in reducing consumption.

US initiatives to ban sugary beverages

New York City

In June of 2012, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City proposed a ban on drinks sweetened with sugar that contain more than 25 calories per 8 fluid ounces. The ban would impact “super-sized” sodas larger than 16 ounces. The mayor cited the staggering rates of obesity in his proposed ban. Many public health officials and health professionals supported the mayor on his bold stand against soda, a major contributor to obesity. Others, however, argued that individuals must take personal responsibility for their beverage choices and their health, and that regulation would be ineffective because large quantities of soda could still be purchased in a few small containers, and the soda ban would not impact all vendors. For example, since the ban would only apply to movie theatres, fast food establishments, and food trucks, a consumer could still purchase an oversized soda at any food mart or grocery store.

Over the course of the summer and fall of 2012, the debate about Bloomberg’s soda ban raged on. In July, protestors of the ban marched – many while sipping large sodas – in City Hall Park. New York City’s Board of Health approved Bloomberg’s plan, and the new rules were set to take effect in March of 2013, but in the meantime the beverage industry and many restaurant owners filed a lawsuit. The proposed law was subsequently struck down in court in March 2013, and Mayor Bloomberg’s subsequent appeal was rejected by a state appeals courts on July 30, 2013.

The large sugary drink ban and subsequent debate raises many important public health questions surrounding access to foods and drinks that have been proven to increase obesity and disease risk. Skeptics remain wary that bans such as Bloomberg’s take away an individual’s right to make personal diet related decisions. Some believe that taking away this right may actually backfire by drawing excess attention to unhealthy items like large sodas and spurring a purchasing spree before they are possibly taken away.

Despite this opposition, there may be significant health benefits to limiting the sale of large sugary drinks. Sugar sweetened beverages are associated with obesity and many related health risks such as type 2 diabetes. New research also suggests that consuming sugar sweetened beverages also amplifies the genetic risk of obesity. We support bans like this because the obesity epidemic causes serious health consequences to individuals and places a large burden – both socially and economically – on aspects of our society such as healthcare. By limiting access to foods and drinks that have been proven to increase obesity and disease risk, individual consumers may be less likely to purchase these items and may instead shift towards healthier foods and drinks.

In a move to trim Boston’s rising obesity rates, Mayor Thomas Menino banned the sale and advertising of sugary drinks from city-owned buildings and city-sponsored events.

  • The executive order, signed in 2011, calls for city departments to phase out regular sodas, sports drinks, and other high-sugar beverages from their vending machines, cafeterias, and concessions. (64)
  • In their place, the city will offer healthier beverage options—among them, water, flavored seltzer, unsweetened coffee and tea, and diet drinks.
  • Sugary drink marketing, from logos on vending machines to banners at events, will also be barred.

Boston, which barred soda and junk food from public school vending machines in 2004, is not alone in its broader beverage ban effort.

  • Boston’s Carney Hospital also announced in 2011 that it would ban high sugar beverages from hospital grounds, making it the first hospital in the city to do so. (65)
  • Cleveland Clinic banned high sugar drinks from its vending machines and cafeterias in August 2010. (66)
  • San Francisco, (67) Los Angeles County, (68), and other cities have also curtailed sugary drink sales on municipal property.

The goal of these bans is to make healthy drinks easy choices—and to counter the billions of dollars beverage manufacturers spent each year on soft drink marketing. That’s just the type of environmental support Americans need to curb their taste for sugar-loaded drinks, public health experts say—and in turn, potentially curb the obesity epidemic.

“There is abundant evidence that the huge increase in soda consumption in the past 40 years is the most important single factor behind America’s obesity epidemic,” says Dr. Walter Willett, chair of the Dept. of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, who joined Mayor Menino at the soda ban’s announcement. “These steps will greatly assist in creating a new social norm, in which healthier beverages are the preferred choice.”

The city has also unveiled a “traffic-light” style promotional campaign to help consumers choose healthier beverages based on their sugar and nutrient content. The campaign, which groups beverages into “red” (limit), “yellow” (drink occasionally), and “green” (best choice) categories, is similar to the “How Sweet Is It” beverage guidelines developed by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition in 2009.

See Boston’s traffic light brochure and poster on how to choose healthy beverages.


41. Vartanian LR, Schwartz MB, Brownell KD. Effects of soft drink consumption on nutrition and health: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Public Health. 200797:667-75.
46. Malik VS, Popkin BM, Bray GA, Despres JP, Willett WC, Hu FB. Sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis. Diabetes Care. 201033:2477-83.
52. Schulze MB, Manson JE, Ludwig DS, et al. Sugar-sweetened beverages, weight gain, and incidence of type 2 diabetes in young and middle-aged women. JAMA. 2004292:927-34.
53. Palmer JR, Boggs DA, Krishnan S, Hu FB, Singer M, Rosenberg L. Sugar-sweetened beverages and incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus in African American women. Arch Intern Med. 2008168:1487-92.
54. Malik VS, Schulze MB, Hu FB. Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 200684:274-88. 58. Wang YC, Bleich SN, Gortmaker SL. Increasing caloric contribution from sugar-sweetened beverages and 100% fruit juices among US children and adolescents, 1988-2004. Pediatrics. 2008121:e1604-14.
59. Bleich SN, Wang YC, Wang Y, Gortmaker SL. Increasing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among US adults: 1988-1994 to 1999-2004. Am J Clin Nutr. 200989:372-81.
60. Duffey KJ, Popkin BM. Shifts in patterns and consumption of beverages between 1965 and 2002. Obesity (Silver Spring). 200715:2739-47.
61. Malik VS, Willett WC, Hu FB. Sugar-sweetened beverages and BMI in children and adolescents: reanalyses of a meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 200989:438-9 author reply 9-40.
62. National Archives and Records Administration’s Office of the Federal Register. Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Title 21: Food and Drugs. Part 101: Food Labeling. Subpart D. Specific requirements for nutrient content claims. 101.60 Nutrient content claims for the calorie content of foods.
63. Brownell KD, Frieden TR. Ounces of prevention–the public policy case for taxes on sugared beverages. N Engl J Med. 2009360:1805-8.
64. Executive Order of Mayor Thomas Menino. An Order Relative to Healthy Beverage Options (PDF). April 7, 2011.
65. Business Wire. Press Release: Carney Hospital to Ban the Sale of Sugar Sweetened Beverages. April 7, 2011.
66. Cleveland Clinic. Who We are and What We Do: Wellness Timeline. About the Wellness Institute.
67. Office of the Mayor Gavin Newsom. City & County of San Francisco. Executive Directive 10-01: Healthy Food & Beverage Options in Vending Machines.
68. Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Los Angeles County Food Policy. Vending Machines, Fund-Raising, and County-Sponsored Meetings. Approved by the Board of Supervisors August 8, 2006 and ammended August 18, 2009.

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Bottlers Agree to a School Ban on Sweet Drinks

The country's top three soft-drink companies announced yesterday that beginning this fall they would start removing sweetened drinks like Coke, Pepsi and iced teas from school cafeterias and vending machines in response to the growing threat of lawsuits and state legislation.

Under an agreement between beverage makers and health advocates, students in elementary school would be served only bottled water, low-fat and nonfat milk, and 100 percent fruit juice in servings no bigger than eight ounces. Serving sizes would increase to 10 ounces in middle school. In high school, low-calorie juice drinks, sports drinks and diet sodas would be permitted serving sizes would be limited to 12 ounces.

The agreement, which includes parochial and private schools contracts, is voluntary, and the beverage industry said its school sales would not be affected because it expected to replace sugary drinks with other ones.

"This is a voluntary policy, but I think schools will want to follow it," said Susan K. Neely, president of the American Beverage Association.

Still, about 35 million public school children would be affected by the agreement, which would apply to extended school functions like band practice but would not apply to events likely to be attended by parents, like evening plays or interscholastic sports. An additional 15 million students attend schools that operate under stricter regulations, where the guidelines would not apply.

Last week, for example, Connecticut banned all sodas, including diet drinks and sports drinks like Gatorade, in its schools New York City schools permit only low-fat milk, water and 100 percent fruit juice — which is sold under an exclusive contract with Snapple.

Contracts between schools and bottlers would be updated under the deal, and changes would not go into effect before the next school year.

The agreement was brokered by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a collaboration between the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association. It is similar to an arrangement that the industry had been negotiating with a coalition of lawyers and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group, that had threatened to sue if an agreement could not be reached. The terms were accepted by the three biggest soft-drink companies, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo Inc. and Cadbury Schweppes (whose products include Dr Pepper and Snapple), which together control more than 90 percent of school sales.

At a news conference at his office in Harlem, Mr. Clinton called the beverage industry "courageous" for agreeing to switch to lower-calorie drinks. Mr. Clinton, who has made obesity a major issue of his postpresidency agenda, was joined by Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, a vocal proponent of fitness.

Later in the day, Mr. Clinton said it was more than the threat of lawsuits that spurred the agreement.

"We've been talking to them for months and months, and they may have liked the way we were working with them, not just singling them out," he said in a telephone interview. "I'm glad we did it without litigation and could accelerate the process."

It will take three years for the agreement to be put fully into effect. The industry has agreed at the end of each school year starting in 2007 to disclose the progress toward fulfilling the agreement. The new standards are expected to be in place in 75 percent of schools by the summer of 2008 and all by 2009. The success of the program depends on schools' willingness to amend existing contracts, industry representatives said.

The majority of school contracts with Pepsi Bottling Group, Pepsi's largest bottler, for instance, are for three to five years, said its spokeswoman, Kelly McAndrew, who said Pepsi would encourage schools to renegotiate their contracts.

"We're doing our part to communicate this new policy," she said.

Mirroring overall beverage consumption in the United States, bottled water and sports drinks have become increasingly popular in schools in recent years. But in a survey released in August, the American Beverage Association said 45 percent of all school vending sales were sweetened soda.

While the soft-drink industry was negotiating the deal, it was discussing a similar accord with the Center for Science in the Public Interest and a group of lawyers who had successfully sued tobacco companies.

Richard A. Daynard, associate dean at Northeastern University School of Law, a tobacco-lawsuit veteran, called the agreement "the first major victory for the obesity-litigation strategy."

"This would not have happened but for the threat of litigation," Professor Daynard said.

Beverage-industry officials acknowledged discussions with the lawyers but would not comment further.

Dr. Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, applauded the agreement, but said, , "Iɽ like to get rid of the Gatorades and diet soft drinks completely."

Nutritionists and parent groups have pressured schools and the beverage industry for some time to restrict sales. Several states, including California, and some local school districts have banned soft-drink sales, and other states are considering similar crackdowns. In response, the beverage association last year announced a policy that would have cut back on the sale of certain soft drinks in schools. But critics said the plan was unenforceable.

Gary Ruskin, executive director of Commercial Alert, a nonprofit public-health group, said the new agreement might prove to have the same problem. Mr. Ruskin criticized it, too, because it did not address soft-drink advertising in schools and did not stop bottlers from advertising on Channel One, which is shown to seven million schoolchildren a day.

Mr. Clinton said there remained "an enormous amount to be done" about childhood obesity.

"You can't single out one cause of this problem," he said. "But if an 8-year-old child took in 45 less calories per day, by the time he reached high school, he would weight 20 pounds less than he would have weighed otherwise.."

The Pandemic strengthened the resolve to fight obesity.

By Nick Corbishley for WOLF STREET:

Since Mexico’s government has passed one of the strictest food labeling laws on the planet in October last year, all soft drinks cans and bottles, bags of chips and other processed food packages must bear black octagonal labels warning of “EXCESS SUGAR”, “EXCESS CALORIES”, “EXCESS SODIUM” or “EXCESS TRANS FATS” — all in big bold letters that are impossible to miss. Many states have also introduced legislation making it much more difficult for retailers to sell junk food and sugary drinks to children.

Evidence from other countries suggests that warning labels can be effective. Chile started requiring them in 2016. It also limited cartoon food packaging, prevented schools from selling unhealthy foods, restricted TV adverts, and banned promotional toys. Over the next two years, sugary drink sales in Chile plunged by 23%. According to one study, the labels reduced the likelihood of people choosing sugary breakfast cereals by 11% and sugary juices by almost 24%. A nightmare for the companies affected.

The prospect of something similar transpiring in Mexico, a country almost seven times larger than Chile and that consumes more processed food than any other country in Latin America, unnerved global food and beverage companies. The United States, EU, Canada and Switzerland, home to some of the world’s biggest food companies, tried to derail the new legislation. But to no avail. The arrival of Covid-19, which has proven to be particularly lethal to people with three comorbidities — obesity, diabetes, and hypertension — has strengthened the government’s case and resolve.

Over a dozen of Mexico’s 36 state governments have banned or are in the process of banning the sales of soft drinks and junk food to children. In Mexico City, the local government has proposed a law that would ban the sale, delivery and distribution of packaged foods with a high caloric and energy content and sugary drinks to children. The law will also ban the presence of soft drink vending machines in schools.

Mexico’s Senate also recently passed a law that will compel educational authorities to prohibit the sale of foods with low nutritional value and high caloric content in the vicinity of school facilities while promoting the establishment of healthy food outlets. There are also moves afoot to restrict the advertising of foods high in fat, salt, sugar and saturated fats on children’s television channels.

These moves have raised concerns that the government is overstepping its bounds. The business lobby group Coparmex said that banning the sale of junk food and sugary drinks to minors represents a frontal attack on commercial freedom and freedom of choice. It will also have serious economic consequences for businesses in the retail sector.

But those consequences are dwarfed by the economic and health impact of widespread obesity. This is particularly true in the time of Covid when the risk of death from the virus is about 10 times higher in countries where more than half of the population is overweight, according to a report released in March by the World Obesity Federation. Data has shown that while age is the predominant factor affecting risk of hospitalization and death from Covid-19, being overweight comes a close second.

In Mexico obesity reached epidemic proportions after it joined NAFTA with the United States and Canada in the early 1990s, making processed food more easily available. Diets quickly changed as many people, particularly those on lower incomes, replaced largely healthy traditional staples (corn tortilla, frijoles, Jamaica Water) with highly processed alternatives (hotdogs, nuggets, sodas). Sugar consumption soared and waistlines exploded. In the past 20 years the number of obese and overweight people has tripled, with 75% of the population now overweight.

Mexico also has the sixth highest mortality rate from Covid-19, which has spurred the government to escalate its war against obesity. But for the global businesses that manufacture ultra-processed foods and sugary drinks, that war could end up posing a serious threat to their business models, especially if it other countries take a leaf out of Mexico and Chile’s book.

The American Bakers Association (ABA) recently warned that Mexico’s new labeling laws are causing difficulties for US manufacturers trying to export food and beverages to Mexico. In a letter sent to Katherine Tai, head of the United States Trade Representation, the lobbying group complained that the Mexican government is applying regulatory actions that it says are not based on science and are not aligned with the work of the Codex Alimentari Commission, the global body responsible for all matters regarding the implementation of the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme. ABA also argues that Mexico’s new labeling laws may contravene some provisions contained in the USMCA , the updated NAFTA agreement, particularly Mexico’s commitments under Chapter 11 (technical barriers to trade).

The problem for ABA and the companies it represents is that critical issues of human health — in particular that of diet — tend to take on greater import and urgency during a global pandemic. What’s more, the Mexican government is not alone in its fight against obesity. It has the support of some pretty powerful allies including the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), a regional branch of the World Health Organization (WHO). And PAHO is calling for the use of front-of-packaging warning labels almost identical to Mexico’s throughout the Americas, which would suggest that the war against obesity has only just began. By Nick Corbishley, for WOLF STREET.

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Sugary drink ban - New policy to be implemented in schools January 2019

Students across Jamaica will be forced to drink healthier beverages at school starting January 2019 as a result of a ban announced by Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton during his Sectoral Debate presentation in Parliament yesterday.

"Effective January 2019, the Government will implement a policy to restrict certain types of sugary drinks in schools. By sugary drinks, we mean beverages that contain sugar or syrup that is added by the manufacturer . . It does not include, Mr Speaker, 100 per cent juice or unsweetened milk," Tufton told the House of Representatives.

The health minister noted that there was evidence that excessive consumption of drinks with added sugar helped to generate non-communicable diseases. He argued that Jamaicans should be worried about the health of teenagers based on recent statistics.

"Approximately 70 per cent of Jamaican children consume one or more sugar-sweetened beverages per day," said Tufton. "The prevalence of obesity in adolescents 13 to 15 years increased by 68 per cent and doubled in boys over the past seven years," he added.

He advised that the education and health ministries would engage manufacturers and distributors in upcoming months to outline the policy guidelines ahead of implementation.

The proposed ban on sugary drinks also applies to public healthcare institutions, as Dr Tufton said that the Government needed to lead by example. The drink ban is nested in the Government's strategy to overhaul nutrition in schools, and the health minister outlined that a nutrition policy was being formalised and would govern what students consumed.

The health minister explained, "The school standards will focus not just on sugar, but on reducing the intake of saturated fats, cholesterol, sodium and sugar and increasing vegetable and fruit consumption."

He said that the policy was designed to complement the Jamaica Moves in Schools programme, which is set to be rolled out soon.

Why sugar should be banned from schools

In 1996, Yvonne Sanders-Butler suffered a stroke. A teacher from Georgia in the United States and a self-admitted over-eater, Sanders-Butler struggled with yo-yo diets for 26 years and the health scare inspired a health revolution both personally and for her community.

A primary school principal of a middle-class school, Sanders-Butler decided she was going to make a change for herself and her 1,000 students. Cookies and ice-cream were commonplace in the school and a typical breakfast was made up of donuts and soft drinks (or sugar-sweetened beverages, as referred to in scientific literature). 20% of students were overweight and just over 50% achieved a passing grade.

What was seen as a drastic action at the time, Sanders-Butler introduced new healthy eating initiatives, made an aggressive attack on processed sugar (she removed 90% of items from school menus) and students were not allowed to bring sugar into the school. Sanders-Butler recalls telling a grandmother carrying cupcakes for her granddaughter that she would not be allowed on school property with the treats.

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From Houston PBS, Yvonne Sanders Butler on establishing a sugar-free school

Over the years, the school has seen a 15% increase in math and reading scores, a 23% reduction in students having to be 'sent to the principal's office&rsquo and no instances of obesity among the student population. Sanders-Butler&rsquos school is an important case study, as a student&rsquos daily energy intake during school hours varies from 19% to 50%.

To fully understand Sanders-Butler and her school&rsquos success, we need to explore what we mean by the umbrella term &lsquosugar&rsquo. Sugar actually refers to a wide array of chemicals, ranging from plant based complex carbohydrates such as starch to simple, refined or processed sugars like fructose. The rule of thumb with how we define if a sugar is &lsquogood&rsquo or &lsquobad&rsquo is how it is broken down in the body.

Sugar is vital to numerous biological functions, yet simple sugars are broken down too quickly in the body, leading to the pancreas creating insulin to convert the excess to fat. What we are most used to in our daily lives is white crystal sugar. Composed of sucrose, it is a stable combination (disaccharide) of glucose and fructose. Sucrose is extracted from plants such as sugar cane or beet which is processed or refined (hence the name) into pure crystals.

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From RTÉ Radio 1's Weekend Show, home economist and lecturer Agnes Bouchier-Hayes on how much sugar is in our food and drinks.

The problem arises when we look at the overindulgence of refined sugars in modern diets. Stealthily present in many foods, levels of refined sugar consumption have tripled in the last 50 years. Indeed, the WHO refers to these sugars as 'free sugars' in that they are added by the manufacturer or users to food products. Modern research on sugar in schools has focussed on these free sugars and has shown the advantages of reducing one&rsquos consumption of sugar, with regard to oral hygiene and obesity.

But what is not yet crystal clear is the impact of refined sugar on behaviour in schools. A Norwegian study of 5,000 students found that 45% of boys and 21% of girls drank soda on a daily basis and high levels of soda consumption with associated with hyperactivity, misbehaviour, delinquency and even mental health problems. However, other studies counter this and argue that links between sugar consumption and cognitive behaviour is a myth, rooted in confirmation bias and social reinforcement.

Even with conflicting evidence around behaviour, the other proven advantages of reducing sugar has brought about a new trend of &lsquoSodabriety&rsquo in schools. As a 330ml can of cola contains 7.8 teaspoons of sugar, fizzy drinks are a quick and easy sugar fix and are most commonly consumed by teenagers.

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From RTÉ Radio 1's Morning Ireland, Dr Marian O'Reilly from Safefood on how the sugar content of some energy drinks has fallen, but bottles and cans are bigger

One school combatted the phenomenon by installing water dispensers beside vending machines to give students a healthy option. However, it seems that students will not automatically make the healthy choice as the innovation had zero impact on the consumption of fizzy drinks.

But what has proven beneficial is educational initiatives and culture changes in schools and the wider community. A decrease in free sugar consumption has been found in schools where students are taught about healthy eating, food production and even given cooking classes.

The positive results seen in Sanders-Bulter&rsquos school seem to be almost intuitive today, but other&rsquos still call it a myth. Sanders-Butler&rsquos actions were more than simple traditional health initiatives or a small-scale study on her school as her approach also brought in external stakeholders from the community. She visited local food suppliers and procured a list of &lsquoauthorised&rsquo vendors to shape the new school menu as well as encouraging staff members, teachers, parents and students with the initiative. It was an all or nothing approach.

Does what we eat as children affect our future health? The Brainstorm radio show @RTERadio1 Weds 10pm presented by @ellamcsweeney with guests @janasharrington @UCC @LizOSullivanPhD @WeAreTUDublin & Grace O'Malley @RCSI_Irl - video by @_LauraGaynor

&mdash RTÉ Brainstorm (@RTEBrainstorm) August 25, 2020

Ireland is slowly following the healthy eating trends. Numerous guides and documents are available online from the HSE and SafeFood. Another key initiative is the Schools Meals Programme that provides funding towards food for disadvantaged children and DEIS schools. To maximise the impact of the scheme, mandatory nutritional standards with a specific focus on reducing simple sugars, salt and fat are available online.

Credit also needs to be given to teachers and principals in Ireland. Many readers will be acutely aware of what is and is not allowed in their child&rsquos school lunch. This will vary from school to school, but highlights the important changes that educators can bring about, often in their own time.

No matter where you stand on the issue, the anti-sugar and pro-health movement is gaining traction inside the school gates and beyond with the introduction of the sugar tax in 2018. Whether the behavioural and cognitive benefits for students are true or not, you can&rsquot argue with the health, dental and obesity advantages of a diet that is low in simple sugars. The important thing is that the government, schools and individuals are taking a stand. Hopefully, it's one that can provide lifelong benefits to all our population in the future.

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent or reflect the views of RTÉ

Soda Bans In Schools Don't Curb Student Consumption Of Sugary Drinks, Study Shows

Just banning soda from schools doesn't actually curb student consumption of sugary drinks, according to new research.

Access to and student purchasing of sugar-sweetened beverages in states that ban soda from schools and states that have no beverage policy is similar. In both soda-banning and no-policy states, nearly 67 percent of 8th graders said they have access to sugary beverages in school and almost 30 percent of those surveyed report purchasing sugary drinks. In states where soda is banned, schools and students simply replaced availability and consumption of sodas with other sugary drinks like sports and high-calorie fruit drinks.

The study, published in the November issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, surveyed 5th and 8th grade students in public schools across 40 states.

In states that banned all sugar-sweetened beverages, 15 percent fewer students reported having access to sugary drinks in school, and 7 percent fewer reported purchasing those drinks at school. Still, it didn't change the students' out-of-school access or purchasing of those beverages, nor did it change overall consumption: Across soda-banning, no-policy and all-sugary-drinks-banning states, about 85 percent of students reported consuming sugar-sweetened beverages at least once in the last week.

"I think definitely the biggest message is that laws need to be comprehensive to have any positive effect at all," Daniel Taber, an author of the study and postdoctoral research associate at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told The New York Times. "The most unequivocal finding was that laws that focus on soda are just not getting it done. If you really want to create a healthier school environment, you need more comprehensive laws."

Over the last 25 years, American youth have consumed more sugar-sweetened beverages but haven't cut back on caloric intake from food. The phenomenon has been associated with youth obesity and weight gain, and more schools across the country are working to cut back on sugary drinks. The Institute of Medicine has recommended that all sugar-sweetened drinks be banned from schools, and schools from California to Massachusetts are considering banning, or have already banned, chocolate milk, citing its high sugar content.

"Our study adds to a growing body of literature that suggests that to be effective, school-based policy interventions need to be comprehensive," the study's authors write in their report. "States that only ban soda, while allowing other beverages with added caloric sweeteners, appear to be no more successful at reducing adolescents' sugar-sweetened beverage access and purchasing within school than states that take no action at all."

Also in an effort to comply with new school lunch guidelines required by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed in September to cut potatoes from school breakfasts and drastically reduce its availability in lunches. The Senate, however, voted last month to block the proposal to cut back on the starchy root vegetable.

While it's important to instill in students good nutritional habits while they're young, simply focusing on piecemeal policies in schools isn't going to be enough, Taber says.

"It suggests there have been positive changes to the school food environment overall, that schools are healthier," Taber told Reuters. "I wouldn't see this as a failure, it's just that that's not going to be enough. To reduce sweetened beverage consumption, and ultimately to reduce obesity, it's going to take more comprehensive policy initiatives."

Schools urged to ban high-caffeine, sugary energy drinks such as Red Bull

Energy drinks such as Red Bull and Lucozade cause major behavioural problems in children and should be banned from schools and possibly from sale to youngsters, says a government adviser.

John Vincent, co-founder of the Leon chain of restaurants who compiled the School Food Plan for the education secretary, Michael Gove, with his business partner, Henry Dimbleby, said children could become unteachable after several cans a day of the high-sugar, caffeinated drinks. "The short-term high is causing disruption to children's behaviour," said Vincent. If a ban were needed, he said, that is what they would support. "Our objective is to stop children drinking them," he added. "We're agnostic about the means."

The British Soft Drinks Association said: "High-caffeine energy drinks are not recommended in the UK for consumption by children." But Vincent claimed nothing was being done to prevent children buying them and said they were clearly the targets of marketing campaigns, which feature sports they admire.

A 500ml can of Red Bull contains about 13 teaspoons of sugar and the equivalent caffeine of two cups of coffee. Children get a brief high followed by a low.

Teachers have told Vincent that pupils' behaviour suffers and they are unable to learn. Some heads have already banned them.

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said many headteachers were very concerned. "Some secondary school-age children come into school having not had a proper breakfast and having started the day with one of these energy drinks. They are very hyperactive, they can't sit still and they can't concentrate. That can lead to disciplinary problems in the classroom. At the end of the day [when the effects have worn off] they are very fractious, very tired and unable to concentrate for that reason."

Some headteachers have banned the drinks from school, but children drink them before they arrive or sneak them in. There is a lack of awareness on their part and their parents of the effects.

Vincent and colleagues want to limit their sale. "As part of the School Food Plan, we are trying to bring manufacturers and headteachers and shops together to solve the problem," he said. "If that doesn't work, we can maybe investigate legal options."Lightman added: "The government needs to consider what action could be taken. Sometimes outright bans can have the opposite effect but it should be made extremely difficult for young people to have access to these drinks."

Photo: A 500ml can of Red Bull contains about 13 teaspoons of sugar and as much caffeine as two cups of coffee. Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian

Watch the video: Would a Soda Ban Help? (June 2022).