The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a collaboration between the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association, has announced that the largest beverage distributors in the United States have agreed to halt nearly all soda sales to public schools.
According to the agreement — the first in the alliance's Healthy Schools program — distributors Cadbury Schweppes PLC, Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc., and the American Beverage Association will sell only water, unsweetened juice, and low-fat milks to elementary and middle schools. High schools will still be able to purchase diet and unsweetened teas, diet sodas, flavored water, seltzer, and low-calorie sports drinks from distributors.
The deal, which will affect nearly thirty-five million students nationwide, follows a wave of regulation by school districts and state legislatures to cut back on student consumption of soda amid reports of rising childhood obesity rates. "It's a bold and sweeping step that industry and childhood obesity advocates have decided to take together," Clinton Foundation spokesman Jay Carson told the Associated Press.
The agreement applies to beverages sold for use on school grounds during the regular and extended school day. While sales during after-school activities will be affected by the new regulations, sales will not be curtailed at events such as school plays, band concerts, and sporting events, where adults make up a significant portion of the audience.
"Many school districts are headed in the same direction as our guidelines," said Robert H. Eckel, president of the American Heart Association. "These new guidelines will help expedite those changes and support parents and students in districts that have not yet been able to improve the nutrition of their schools."