Public Health Institute links soda consumption at school and obesity

Bay City News Service
Saturday April 06, 2002

The Public Health Institute today released a report analyzing soda contracts at the state’s 25 largest school districts to address how marketing practices to increase soda consumption ultimately contribute to California’s growing obesity epidemic. 

“Huge multi-national soda companies woo cash-strapped schools with the promise of money for concession, advertising and pouring rights,” said Carmen Nevarez, medical director at the Berkeley-based Public Health Institute. 

“Soda companies are clearly in the best position to dictate terms to school officials that are favorable to soft drink companies but not the health of our children,'' she said. 

Childhood obesity and tooth decay have been linked to the consumption of soft drinks that are high in sugar and calories but offer little nutritional value, according to the Public Health Institute, which says children often opt for the sugary drinks in lieu of healthy beverages like milk. 

“In order to prevent the incidence of obesity among our children, adults and public institutions must consider programs and policies that promote healthy eating habits and physical activities,” said Robert Ross, president and CEO of The California Endowment, which commissioned the report. 

“Overweight children become overweight adults, putting them at risk for many chronic but preventable illness. As adults, we have the responsibility of ensuring that our children develop habits to last a lifetime.”