In hopes to reduce the amount of overweight children, many schools have banned sodas from vending machines. Yet, sports drinks and other sugary beverages continue to be made available. As a result, children are still faced with unhealthy options. Until the schools partner with the community to educate students on proper eating habits, reducing sugar consumption will be an uphill battle.
According to the Los Angeles Times, in 2002, the Los Angeles Unified School District “banned sodas from school vending machines and cafeterias.” Since then, other schools have followed suit. Now, half as many U.S. adolescents can buy high-calorie sodas. Furthermore, based on a Reuters’ article, from 2006 to 2011, the amount of soda younger middle school students had access to fell from “27 to 13 percent.” Yet, despite these encouraging statistics, kids are still drinking sugar in the form of fruit drinks and sports beverages.
While sodas have been banned at many schools, sports drinks like Gatorade are readily available. In the 2010-2011 school year, “83 percent” of high school students could buy these types of drinks. There are a lot of advertisements for sports drinks. When I was a teen, I remember hearing that sports drinks had electrolytes and hydrated you better than regular water. According to Mayoclinic.com, when you exercise for more than 60 minutes, “sports drinks can help maintain your body’s electrolyte balance and give you a bit more energy because they contain carbohydrates.” To me, the key word here is exercise. Many kids aren’t exercising and are still loading up on calories through sports drinks.
Education and Programs
I have always been in awe when I see young children bring a big pack of chips and soda as their mid-morning snack at school. We can ban soda all we want. However, if it is still being pushed at home, kids will just drink it after school. As teachers, the best thing we can do is educate kids on healthy eating habits. Bringing fresh fruit for a “taste tasting” party at school is one way we can encourage healthy habits. Raffling off water bottles for incentives and giving students water breaks several times a day are other ways to promote H20 consumption. You can even take your class to a local farm to pick fresh fruits and vegetables. Of course, going out for P.E. every day is important too.
Schools can help communities become healthier by adopting programs to promote healthy habits. For instance, the USDA’s Team Nutrition asks schools, parents, and the community to form a partnership to improve school meals and educate the community. Farm to School programs aim to serve healthy meals in school cafeterias.
Removing sugary drinks from vending machines is a step in the right direction. However, we also have to educate and encourage kids to make healthy eating part of their lifestyles.
Susan Heavey Fewer U.S. students buy sodas, sports drinks still a problem-study Reuters
A soda ban, L.A.-style latimes.com