CSPI Reaction to Soda Lobby Study on Schools
Statement of CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson
December 1, 2005
It's a telling sign that the soda industry knows it is losing its battle to stay in America's schools when its lobbyists are congratulating themselves for lower sales. They're trying to make it seem like it's their benevolence and self-restraint that were responsible for a decline and not the parents, and increasingly, some policymakers, who are sick of soda companies putting profits ahead of our kids' health. If they think soda sales in schools have declined now, they should wait until the statewide reforms in California and New Jersey kick in, as well as the improvements pending in many other big school systems.
Of course, the American Beverage Association has been fighting parents' efforts to improve school foods every step of the way. This is an industry that only makes concessions to public health when they're on the verge of being forced to. Remember, these are the same folks who not too long ago licensed their logos for use on baby bottles and defended Coke marketing in Africa as if it were famine relief. If they now are concerned with fending off parents' lawsuits, I suggest that they be content with selling their obesity-inducing product in virtually every public place in America other than schools.
Spin notwithstanding, soft drinks such as soda and so-called 'sports drinks' are the biggest single source of kids' calories. Any serious plan to make a dent in childhood obesity would put curbing soda consumption at the top of the list. This study doesn't add much to the sum of human knowledge on soda sales in school. It's just a panicky and desperate attempt at public relations.