Soft drink association plans to support ban in elementary schools

WASHINGTON: Hoping to improve its standing in the debate over childhood obesity, the soft drink industry is planning to come out in favor of a ban on the sale of carbonated soft drinks in elementary and middle schools. It also will advocate restrictions o

WASHINGTON: Hoping to improve its standing in the debate over childhood obesity, the soft drink industry is planning to come out in favor of a ban on the sale of carbonated soft drinks in elementary and middle schools. It also will advocate restrictions o

"We want consumers to know that we hear them," said Kathleen Dezio, VP of communications at the American Beverage Association (ABA), the major soft drink trade association.

The ABA's board will vote in the near future to ask its members not to enter into any new contracts to sell carbonated soft drinks in schools, Dezio said. An exact timetable for the vote has not been set.

"We want to do our part; we believe childhood obesity is a serious problem," Dezio said. "We want to help parents out in the school environment."

Sugar-filled soft drinks have been cited as a major culprit in increasing childhood obesity. Several school districts have banned their sales.

One soft drink opponent, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), recently called for warning labels on carbonated drinks similar to those on cigarette packages.

In the past, the ABA has said sales restrictions were a matter for local school authorities to decide. However, Dezio said its position change is not a response to CSPI's call in mid-July for warning labels.

"I think we can expect the larger players in the industry to endorse that policy," she said of the ban.

Coke already has a policy posted on its website saying carbonated soft drinks shouldn't be available to elementary school students during the school day.

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