Guidelines from The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, William J. Clinton Foundation, American Heart Association, and beverage industry leaders will help to limit one of those risk factors - soda in schools.
Under these school beverage guidelines, elementary and middle schools will only be able to sell water, low fat milk, and juice with no sugar added, although the rules are a little more liberal for high schools, who can also sell diet soda, sports drinks, and other low calorie drinks.
Portion sizes will also be capped depending on the type of school, with elementary school students only being able to get 8oz drinks, middle school students having 10oz drinks available, and the serving size increasing to 12oz in high schools.
Is It Going To Make A Difference?So will these new guidelines make a difference in the fight against childhood obesity? While some people may think it is too small a change, it is important to keep in mind that even small changes can make a difference. A recent study by the America on the Move Foundation found that families who eliminated just 100 calories from their diet each day and walked an extra 2,000 steps were able to lose some weight.
If you consider that 3,500 calories are in a pound of fat, then it is easy to see how little changes can make a difference. After 35 days of getting 100 fewer calories per day, you could lose a pound.
The guidelines may not go far enough though. No sugar added juice still has a lot of calories in it and diet soda will likely become the new favorite drink among high school students. Although they won't be getting a lot of calories from diet soda, high schoolers still won't be getting any nutrition from these drinks either, which they might if these drinks were banned altogether and kids were just encouraged to drink low fat milk.
The other big problem is that these new guidelines don't take effect for several years. Progress is being made to implement them in 75% of schools during this school year and in all schools before the start of the 2009-10 school year.