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Told to Offer Water and Milk, Elementary Schools Sell Soda

Childhood obesity soft drinks and fruit juice in school

High-calorie drinks widely available to little school kids

Researchers reported today on a survey that found high-calorie drinks are making an even bigger hit with little kids. Sugary sodas, sugar-sweetened fruit juice, higher-fat milk and other calorie-packed drinks are even more widely available to elementary kids at school than they used to be.

In 61 percent of U.S. elementary schools surveyed, little students could buy sweetened drinks or sodas at vending machines or school stores on campus. This despite the Institute of Medicine recommending that elementary school kids only be offered water, a small amount of 100% juice, or lowfat milk.

The study, published in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, looked at public and private schools during school years from 2006 to 2009. The percentage of schools offering big calorie drinks was up from 49% in 2006.

One small piece of good news here…

The percentage of public schools offering only beverages that adhere to the Institute of Medicine guidelines is up from 10% to 16%. Private schools fared worse.

“I think at this point there still is a discrepancy between what we are actually recommending for children and what they are consuming,” Dr. Alice Lichtenstein, a heart and nutrition specialist at Tufts University, told Reuters.

Sounds like it. My son, who is only two, would happily sip soda or juice all day long if he were allowed. That’s just the way our taste proclivities are built — we gravitate towards high calorie foods and drinks because it signals our brain that nutrition is in store. In this case, it’s a trick — only empty calories that tax the body’s insulin and set up our little ones for later obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Image: flickr/dcJohn

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