Children tend to buy sodas and sugar-sweetened drinks from school vending machines and children who eat in quickserve restaurants are likely to drink sugar-sweetened beverages, according to a Harvard School of Public Health study that evaluated the vending machine choices and quickserve restaurant orders of 1,500 students at 10 middle schools.
After the Connecticut Senate last week voted 24-8 in favor of banning regular soda, diet soda and sports drinks from schools, the House is now debating the bill. While Gov. M. Jodi Rell vetoed a similar bill last year, she is expected to sign this one because it reduces state mandates and boosts funding for schools offering nutritious snacks.
Two Connecticut Democrats have accused Coca-Cola Co. of pressuring local schools to sell soda to students by offering financial incentives for stocking vending machines with soda and by threatening to rescind funding for scholarships and athletic programs if the legislature bans schools from selling soft drinks. An attorney for Coke says the company will defend its existing deals and school districts can renegotiate their contracts after the current ones expire.
The author (affiliated with the Cato Institute) cites studies supported by a soft drink industry group suggesting school vending machines featuring sodas have no correlation to childhood obesity. Even if the study is dismissed by some because of its funding, he writes, regulators should not act until they can produce evidence that merits banning vending machines on school campuses.