PepsiCo on Tuesday announced a new global policy on sweetened sodas in school: They’ve taken a withdrawal. Starting in 2012, you won’t be able to find a can of Mountain Dew — or any of its full sugar sodas — in any K-12 school across the world. (PepsiCo already pulled the trigger on the policy here in the States.) Instead, the company will offer school kids milk, 100 percent juice products, bottled water, and diet sodas. Wait a second… did I hear that right? No. It can’t be.
Okay, PepsiCo. I like the idea of pulling soda out of schools. And you can’t get much healthier than water and milk. (Although the bottle is troubling, but I digress as always.) But diet soda? REALLY? With what we already know about artificial sweeteners, Wouldn’t a better policy be to stick with milk, juice, and soda? Do little kids really need to get hooked on artificial junk so early? Not to mention the effect on our environment. For example, did you know that last summer researchers in Germany found that sewage treatment plants can’t extract all of the aspartame that gets flushed –cough, cough, you know what I mean — down the toilet? And unfortunately we know nothing about what those chemicals can do to an ecosystem. And if you’re actually trying to curb obesity, why would you offer drinks that have ingredients that have been directly linked to causing obesity, according to several different studies. Here’s an excerpt from one: “Researchers have laboratory evidence that the widespread use of no-calorie sweeteners may actually make it harder for people to control their intake and body weight. The findings appear in the February issue of Behavioral Neuroscience, which is published by the American Psychological Association (APA).”
Oh, and did you know just having those drinks in schools may hurt kids and their ability to learn and make decisions? A January study out of the University of South Dakota was able to link drinking diet soda with a propensity to want immediate gratification. Those people who drank full sugar soda were more likely to make choices to delay reward. I’ll let the researchers explain: “The finding that a diet soda drink increased the degree of future discounting suggests that artificial sweeteners may alarm the body of imminent caloric crisis, leading to increased impulsivity.” Impulsivity? In school? Not a great thing.
So, PepsiCo: I like your thinking. You’re almost there. I’m really happy that you’re considering the welfare of our kids. I like that they don’t have access to the high fructose-filled soda that you put out. But I can’t give you an A. Not just yet. You’re still at a C+. And my kids? They’ll still be taking their water-filled stainless steel thermos to school. Way cheaper, and way better for their bodies.
p.s. PepsiCo: My husband loves Pepsi Throwback. Why don’t you just do away completely with the HFCS in your sodas? Is it that much cheaper to produce your products using something that’s been proven to cause high blood pressure, affect memory, contribute to obesity, and may increase the risk of kidney disease? Seriously. I’m asking. I’d love to hear your answer. I know you read my blog.
What’s your take on soda in schools? Are you for it? Against it? I’ve seen people on my Facebook page say that they had entire football fields paid for by soda machine sales –shudder, think of all those calories! Who should decide?
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