These days, about half of all drinks/ sold in American schools/ are sugary soft drinks/ like Coke and Pepsi. Opponents/ have fought these sales/ for years. They say/ sugary soft drinks/ are largely responsible/ for the increase/ in overweight young people.
The soft drink industry/ has rejected the blame/ and raised the issue/ of not enough physical exercise. But earlier this month/ there was a big announcement. The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo and Cadbury Schweppes/ have agreed to stop selling these products/ in schools.
The companies agreed to limit sales/ in high schools/ to diet soft drinks, sports drinks, juices, milk and water. High schools/ sell the most soft drinks. Elementary and middle schools/ would be limited to bottled water, milk and juice. Limits/ on serving sizes and calorie counts/ in drinks/ are also part of the agreement.
States such as California and Connecticut/ have already banned or restricted soft drink sales/ in public schools. Other places/ have been considering action.
Leading soda makers say/ less than one percent/ of their money/ comes from school sales. But many schools/ face limited budgets. Marketing agreements/ with food and drink companies/ offer one solution. Many parents and others, though, say/ it is a bad solution.
The industry agreement/ is part of a campaign/ to reduce childhood obesity. The campaign/ is led/ by the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association.
The government says/ five percent of teenagers/ were overweight/ in nineteen eighty. By two thousand four, it was seventeen percent. For younger children, the rate/ increased from seven/ to nineteen percent.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest/ had threatened legal action/ if no agreement/ was reached. The group argues/ that sugary soda/ should come/ with health warnings, just like cigarettes.
The agreement/ is expected to be fully in place/ by two thousand ten. But other companies/ do not have to honor it. And some people say/ it does not go far enough.
In a separate development, the Disney Company and McDonald's/ last week/ announced an end/ to their ten-year alliance. Both sides say/ the decision/ to stop marketing Disney-related products/ in McDonald's Happy Meals/ was for business reasons. They rejected suggestions/ that Disney/ did not want to be linked to concerns/ about fast food/ and overweight children.