CSPI Applauds Agreement to Get High-Calorie Drinks Out of Schools; Drops Planned Litigation

Statement of CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson


Soft drink companies have been using schools to market empty-calorie beverages to children, a practice that many parents and nutritionists have deplored.

Considering that recent scientific studies have shown that increased soft-drink consumption contributes to obesity, today's announcement that soft drink companies will be pulling their high-calorie drinks from schools represents a significant advance for children's health. I applaud President Clinton, Governor Huckabee, and the American Heart Association for facilitating this progress and the industry for agreeing to it.

The agreement goes a long way toward getting all sugary drinks out of schools. Serving sizes will decrease. Calories will be capped. And by getting sugary sodas out of all schools at all times, the companies will give kids a better chance of forming healthy eating habits. Though there is room for improvement-sugary "sports" drinks still will be sold in schools, for instance-this voluntary agreement is certainly good enough that CSPI will drop its planned lawsuit against Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Cadbury Schweppes, and their bottlers.

I hope this settlement contributes to the momentum that is building in Congress for legislation that would require USDA to update its standards for foods sold outside of school meals. That would enable USDA to eliminate the sale of candy, cookies, French fries, potato chips, and other snack foods, as well as sports drinks, that are standard fare in school vending machines and stores.

I would like to thank CSPI litigation director Steve Gardner, Richard Heideman of the Heideman, Nudelman & Kalik law firm in Washington, and Richard Daynard of the Public Health Advocacy Institute at Northeastern University for negotiating effectively with the soft-drink industry over the past six months and for demonstrating that the judicial system can play an important role in spurring public health advances.

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