Have you heard? Sugary drinks are slowly vacating public schools nationwide…
Researchers found the number of elementary school students who could buy soda or other drinks not recommended by the IOM at school peaked at 47 percent in 2008 and dropped to 33 percent in 2011.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM), an advisory panel to the U.S. government, recommends schools sell only water, 100-percent juice and fat-free or low-fat milk to kids.
For this new study, researchers at the Institute for Health Research and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago evaluated 5 years worth of surveys between 2007 and 2011, which assessed the beverage selection in elementary schools nationwide. Every spring, between 578-748 schools recorded the types of beverages offered at their school and the location in the school where they were sold.
At first glance, the results from this study are encouraging. Although, the article also highlights another study that found that limiting access to soda beverages in schools had no effect on students’ overall consumption patterns. Will this widespread cutback on soda in schools make any difference?
Public health experts assert that soda drinking is strongly linked to childhood obesity so clearly something needs to change. We may not have the answer just yet, but with these new policy changes, schools are making a commendable effort to fight the childhood obesity epidemic.
Another strategy for schools to consider is nutrition education. Learning ZoneXpress' 1 Great Tray Poster—Build your tray the healthy way!— highlights the importance of nutritious foods and beverages. Hang the poster in the cafeteria so students know to aim for ½ fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and a serving of skim milk. Dispense knowledge to your students, not soda pop. We’re pretty certain that the IOM would approve!