Soda Bans Are Not the Answer for Long Term Health
(Facilitator: Shasta High School Student Union )
The Student Union is a high school student group from Shasta High School in Redding California. The following article best describes our cause:

It was published on February 14, 2006 in the Record Searchlight (Redding Area Newspaper)

The new law we are challenging bans carbonated beverages from high school campuses in the name of fighting obesity. In actuality, the new law (SB 965) falls far short of its well-intentioned objectives and further, we believe, diminishes the likelihood that young Californians will make healthy dietary choices in the future. It was for this reason that we drafted a new bill that has been offered to the Legislature for adoption.

In eliminating carbonated beverages from campus, SB 965, bestowed a "privileged status" upon an equally unhealthy, high-calorie "no less than 50 percent juice drinks." While these drinks may host some increased nutrient value, their high fructose levels are comparable to, if not worse than, the average soda beverage. Endorsing these drinks falsely engenders the belief that students can decrease obesity by simply consuming these so-called "health" beverages, without regard to their caloric content. This is nutritional nonsense.

One universally accepted method of fighting obesity is engaging in physical fitness programs. In this regard, the current ban has caused drastic cuts in revenue for athletic programs. This loss of revenue, which directly indicates fewer drink sales, is particularly perplexing since we cannot assume that students have become less thirsty as a result of the ban. The fact is that the students now obtain the beverages off campus. Thus, the diet-controlling bill that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger claimed would "terminate childhood obesity forever" has actually led to less control over what students consume at lunch every day.

Our bill hopes to curb these problems by implementing higher nutrition standards and changing student choices. By our provisions, 50 percent of the drinks must be of a higher standard than is currently enforced. This change would eliminate the 100 percent juice drinks that host excess sugar, while allowing less caloric, more useful, vitamin supplement and sparkling waters, currently banned under SB 965.

The drinks that meet our standard would then be labeled as a "Healthy Choice." Nutritional comparison charts must be posted at the location of all beverage sales, to help students understand the nutritional values of all drinks as well as the costs and benefits of their choices. By educating students about the nutritional results of their decisions, we create a positive peer influence that emphasizes healthier beverages for healthier appearances in the socially demanding environment of high school. With the additional 50 percent of drinks provided at the district's discretion, students will view the newfound variety in vending machines and cafeterias as they would view the selection at the store. The difference is that they will be making an educated choice, while at the same time dropping money back into the athletic programs that foster fitness and healthy lifestyles.

Obesity does not crawl out the window with a change in drink choice. A 100-calorie "super healthy" drink will still build fat like a 100-calorie "illegal soda" if lifestyle habits remain the same. Merely limiting diet options in schools will not fight obesity. It is only through education that people change their health habits. For example, the mere mention today of "trans fat" makes consumers shudder. With knowledge and a good framework for decision-making, students will make healthy decisions on their own. These will stay with them for life.

We are starting an initiative to add our bill to the California State November Ballot. The bill we authored died after we failed to acquire a sponsor.

Please send us an e-mail if you would like to join our campaign. We will need many in our pursuit.
Geographical Scope: State
Added on 02-27-2006
Updated on 02-27-2006

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