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Thursday, 12 September, 2002, 10:02 GMT 11:02 UK
School return lacks fizz
boy being weighed
Schools want to help tackle obesity
School children in Los Angeles are going back to school without their usual fix of Coke and other fizzy drinks.

Officials have banned Coke, Pepsi and Seven Up from vending machines in schools and replaced them with water, fruit juice and milk.

The ban is an attempt to improve the eating habits of Los Angeles children.

Officials say nearly half of children in the area are either overweight or obese.

Faye Banton
Faye Banton: "Our society is a couch potato population"
Zen Yaroslavsky, the chairman of the School Board in Los Angeles County, said: "Obesity and other complications resulting from obesity such as diabetes are now at epic proportions in Los Angeles and across the country.

"It's become apparent to policy makers that if we don't do something about it, you are consigning kids to a horrible quality of life."

School principal Faye Banton fully supports the ban.

"I think our whole society is a couch potato population, where we sit and we watch and we don't do as much physically as we should do, and kids model what we do," she said.

"So we are taking the can away from the couch."

Schools hope that by saying goodbye to the vending machines, and encouraging children to eat and drink healthily, children will not only feel better but also learn better.

obese boy running
Los Angeles officials say half of all children are overweight
But the decision to ban the vending machines came at a price.

Companies like Coca Cola pay substantial amounts to schools to put their machines inside.

Schools might earn as much as 200,000 a year through such sponsorship.

Critics of the ban argue it will mean children lose out on sports and after-school activities, which are sometimes funded through sponsorship cash.

John Doyle, of the Centre for Consumer Freedom, said: "It's an ironic twist that if you eliminate soft drinks you are going to ultimately eliminate after-school activities and sporting activities, which help reduce the obesity problems so you are going to hurt children even more."

See also:

27 Aug 02 | Education
12 Sep 02 | Health
28 Sep 00 | Education
28 Feb 02 | Education
25 Sep 01 | England
30 Jun 00 | Education
Links to more Education stories are at the foot of the page.


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