After reading both Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation and Brownell’s Food Fight, I am well aware of the impact that soda has on child obesity. While I am by no means obese, I confess my own affection for ginger ale, although my consumption has been somewhat reduced by my even greater affections for decent beer and coffee.

Schlosser’s chapter about soda companies and schools was disheartening to say the least. That’s why I was so suprised to hear that the big soda companies had “agreed” to stop selling soda in schools.

In a deal announced Wednesday, the nation’s largest beverage distributors agreed to stop selling non-diet sodas to most public schools, where childhood obesity has become an increasing concern.

Public high schools would still be sold diet soda under the agreement, but elementary and middle schools would be sold only unsweetened juice, low-fat milk and water, said Jay Carson, a spokesman for former President Clinton, whose William J. Clinton Foundation helped broker the deal.

The article goes on to say that soda sales in schools represents a mere fraction of the companies’ revenues, and that’s probably true, but as we all know, there is great value in brand impression, and turning kids into [insert soda brand here]-drinkers by saturating (almost literally) their environment with it is far more important to the bottom line than immediate sales.

My guess is that there was nothing “voluntary” about this move, and that there’s enough public outcry now that some politicians somewhere stopped looking at their soft money long enough to find their testicles. After all, this comes at the same time that we see a new study that finds Americans consistently less healthy than the English, and not just because of increased obesity.

White middle-aged Americans are less healthy than their English counterparts, research suggests.

Americans aged 55 to 64 are up to twice as likely to suffer from diabetes, lung cancer and high blood pressure as English people of the same age.

The healthiest Americans had similar disease rates to the least healthy English, the Journal of the American Medical Association study found.

There’s something seriously wrong with America’s approach to diet and lifestyle in general, I think.

§1118 · May 3, 2006 · Tags: , ·

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