Pressure to Cut Calories From School
Food Navigator USA
October 6, 2008
A new study has added weight to calls for juices, drinks
with added sugar and candy to be removed from all school
However, food manufacturers are already taking steps in
the right direction by reducing pack sizes, addressing
concerns that products sold in vending machines
encourage students to consume more calories.
Beverages in vending machines were found to have added
sugars, high-calorie 100 percent fruit juices and snacks
over 200 hundred calories, according to the figures from
the HEALTHY Study which is a nationwide effort led by
Temple University to curb obesity and type 2 diabetes in
middle school students
It said that despite efforts to include more healthy
choices at schools, standard offerings from vending
machines, including fruit juices, are giving students
more calories than they require.
Amy Virus, senior health services coordinator for the
study from the Center for Obesity Research and Education
at Temple University, said: "Contrary to common belief,
fruit juice is not a healthy snack, if drunk in excess.
It should be limited to about six ounces per day, but
it's common to see more than one serving in a bottle.
"Changes made to the vending machines in schools will
help reduce excess calories taken in by school kids."
Virus, who is also president of the Pennsylvania
Dietetic Association, said: "The program's goal is to
ultimately remove all juice and sugar added beverages,
offer water instead and eliminate candy from vending
Data from 42 schools across seven cities showed that 75
percent of had vending machines. Of those machines, 83
percent sold beverages alone and 17 percent sold snack
foods only. The most prevalent beverages available in
vending machines were added sugar beverages (39 percent)
and 100 percent fruit juice (23 percent).
The most prevalent snacks available were reduced fat
chips (22 percent), regular baked goods (16 percent),
cereal bars (14 percent) and low fat ice cream (14
Overall, the energy content of beverages ranged from
zero calories for water to 325 calories for added sugar
drinks. For snacks it was between 25 calories for low
fat ice cream, to 480 calories for baked goods.
There is increasing pressure on the food and drinks
industry to stop marketing products of poor nutritional
quality to children.
However, a report issued last month showed that the
“beverage industry continues to significantly cut
calories in schools” two years into the national School
Beverage Guidelines scheme which was set up in 2006.
This voluntary initiative is between the Alliance for a
Healthier Generation, American Beverage Association
(ABA), The Coca-Cola Company, Dr Pepper Snapple Group
The guidelines call for the beverage industry to provide
lower-calorie and smaller-portion options in schools,
including the removal of full-calorie soft drinks, all
by the 2009-2010 school year.
The ABA’s School Beverage Guidelines Progress Report
2007-2008 showed that beverage calories shipped to
schools have decreased by 58 percent since 2004 and 79
percent of schools under contract with bottlers are
already in compliance with the national School Beverage
The association said the shift towards lower-calorie,
smaller-portion beverages was contributing to the
reduction in calories available from beverages in
schools, as well as the change in the beverage mix
available to students.
Vending machines are a major source of marketing through
product sales and advertising on the machine’s exterior.
Some states have strong nutrition standards for food
sold in schools.
Yet, while schools are working to reduce junk-food
sales, many vending machines are still stocked with
soda, juice drinks, iced tea, candy, cookies and chips,
according to the Center for Science in the Public
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