Healthy School Nutrition Environment
Drinks in Wyoming Schools:
Health vs. Revenue Issues
link between good nutrition and good education is clearly demonstrated by higher
scores, better attendance and fewer behavior problems in school.
Secretary of Agriculture, Dan Glickman
Nationwide as well as in Wyoming, many schools and school districts have contracts with soft drink companies that help close the budget gaps for those schools and districts. However, at current levels, consumption of soft drinks by American youth is detrimental to their health. Along with decreases in physical activity and increases in consumption of other calorie-dense foods, high intakes of soft drinks are contributing to the rapidly rising rates of obesity in children. Obesity increases the risk of serious disorders, including diabetes and heart disease. The sugar contained in soft drinks is cariogenic, and the acidity can erode teeth. By displacing more nutritious beverages such as milk and other calcium-containing beverages, high intakes of carbonated soft drinks can increase the risk of osteoporosis. Additionally, the caffeine content of some beverages can contribute to behavioral problems in children at school as well as in other settings.
Summary of Health-Related Issues
addition to lifestyle choices taught in the classroom, the environment that
students experience each day also shapes their choices and habits.
It is unrealistic to expect students’ behavior to be
consistent with healthy eating goals in an environment that promotes the
Dietary habits established early often last a lifetime. Accordingly, adults need to take an active role in fostering healthy environments for their children and themselves. Wyoming and the nation can justifiably promote personal accountability, but children cannot be expected to drink more water and milk when the beverage choice at the end of their school hallway is the choice between a cola or non-cola carbonated soft drink.
of Revenue Issues
income sources. Nationwide, soft drink manufacturers have
contracted with hundreds of schools and school districts for exclusive
rights to make the manufacturers’ products available in schools while
excluding competitors’ products. Such contracts are often referred to as
“pouring rights.” These agreements generate revenue at a time when
public funding for many schools has been inadequate and/or declining. Other
supplemental sources of revenue within schools include smaller-scale
fund-raising efforts—often with nutrient-poor foods such as soft drinks,
candy, or other high-sugar/high-fat items. These fund-raising efforts are
carried out by groups within schools and even, in some cases, by individual
classroom teachers to raise money for their classroom supplies.
Additionally, within Wyoming, soft-drink distributors are located within a
number of communities, where they contribute to the available jobs and to
the income of those communities and to the state as a whole.
alternatives. School districts in other states have successfully
implemented health-promoting policies. Such alternative approaches also
appear to be working in Wyoming. For example, in Evanston, Wyoming school
food service director Judy Rossmeisl has eliminated carbonated soft drinks
from school vending. More healthful alternatives to smaller types of
fundraisers include sponsorships of students doing clean-up activities,
walks, or runs; sales of wrapping paper; car washes; etc. The jobs and
income provided by soft drink companies located in Wyoming communities are
important considerations locally as well as statewide. However, many of
these communities distribute bottled water and juices in addition to soft
drinks. Thus, any declines in soft drink sales could be offset by bottled
water consumption, which could preserve these companies’ revenue streams,
And in terms of future cost consideration, as noted by syndicated columnist
Art Popham, “If you think American
business struggles to control health care costs now, just wait a few years,
when today’s cholesterol-clogged, overweight adolescents join the work
by Judy Barbe, MS, RD, Western Dairy Council, and Suzy Pelican, MS, RD, UW
Cooperative Extension Service food and nutrition specialist, and WIN Wyoming
Wyoming educates people to respect body-size diversity and to enjoy the benefits
active living, pleasurable and healthful eating, and positive self-image.
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