Soft drinks taken out of schools - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Soft drinks taken out of schools

May 4, 2006

Valdosta - The days of buying a Mountain Dew or Pepsi at Lowndes High School will soon be a thing of the past. Beverage distributors have reached an agreement with anti-obesity advocates to put sugary soft drinks off limits in public schools. "I think it will be a very big positive step for us," said Dr. Brian Griner, Pediatrician.

The soda machines won't be removed from school property. Instead, they'll be filled with diet soft drinks and healthier options. "The juice, the water and low fat milks," said Joyce Akins, School Nutritionist.

Health care providers say this is the first step in tackling the growing epidemic of childhood obesity. "A quick and easy way to get in a lot of useless calories are in sodas," said Dr. Brian Griner.

Dr. Brian Griner practices both pediatrics and internal medicine. He sees the problem at its onset in kids, then carrying on into adulthood. "Its become such a predominant problem that we're seeing a marked increase in the rise of hypertension and Type Two Diabetes in children," said Griner.

And he contributes much of that problem to junk food and sugary soft drinks. "Pulling it out of the schools and making it less user friendly will hopefully curb a couple of pounds in these kids and maybe even promote some weight loss," said Griner.

A diet soft drink may be a better choice than a regular, sugary one, but school nutritionists still don't think its the healthiest option. "They still have caffeine in them and thats not good for kids, it blocks calcium absorption for one thing," said Akins.

Ideally, Akins would like to see all vending machines removed from school. But even though this agreement may not be a complete solution to combating the obesity epidemic, it is a step in the right direction.

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