Low-calorie drinks to hit school vending machines

NEW YORK: The beverage industry is touting last week's agreement by several beverage companies to limit school vending-machine sodas to 100 calories per drink.

NEW YORK: The beverage industry is touting last week's agreement by several beverage companies to limit school vending-machine sodas to 100 calories per drink.

"The reason we established this policy is that we all understand that there are no shortcuts to solving the problem of obesity, and this is a way that we as an industry can be part of the solution," said Dave DeCecco, PepsiCo PR director.

Diana Garza Ciarlante, director of public affairs and communications for Coca-Cola North America, said the company supports nutrition and physical fitness among schoolkids. "This is simply an acceleration of what we had already put in place about a year or so ago," she said.

But Gene Grabowski of Levick Strategic Communications argued that the companies are just following the market. "Kids want sports drinks. They want juices, and half the selections in the [school vending] machines are bottled water," he said.

The American Beverage Association found that between 2002 and 2004, sales of "full-calorie" carbonated soft drinks declined 24%, while sales of water rose 23%, fruit juices 15%, and sports drinks 70%.

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