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Monday, May 08, 2006

Soda banned at public schools

The nation’s largest soft drink distributors have agreed to stop selling sweetened sodas in public schools, according to an Associated Press report released yesterday.

The agreement with Cadbury Schweppes PLC, Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and the American Beverage Association was arranged by former president Bill Clinton’s personal foundation and the American Heart Association.

The agreement, which will allow the companies to sell other beverages in public schools, follows a wave of regulations by school districts and state legislatures to cut back on student consumption of soda amid reports of rising childhood obesity rates.

Nearly 35 million students nationwide will be affected by the deal, according to The Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

Students have begun purchasing other drinks in recent years, but sweetened soda remains the most popular, accounting for 45 percent of beverages sold in schools in 2005.

How quickly the change takes effect depends on individual school districts’ willingness to alter existing contracts. The companies say they will implement the changes at 75 percent of the nation’s public schools by the 2008-2009 school year, and all schools a year later.