by Marion Nestle
Mar 8 2010

Beverage Association’s PR spin on bad news for sodas in schools

Just in time for the Albany conference on soda taxes (see previous post), the Beverage Association has issued a report on the great progress it is making in reducing calories from sodas sold in schools.

In fact, the Beverage Association is doing a terrific job on reducing soft drink consumption.  Sales of sodas are down by impressive percentages, but so are sales of all drinks sold in school vending machines, as illustrated by this chart from today’s Wall Street Journal.

Source: Wall Street Journal, 3-8-10

This is good news.  The next steps to improve school food?  Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Get the vending machines out of schools altogether, those for snacks as well as sodas.
  • Get rid of “competitive” foods, those sold in competition with school meals.
  • Put some restrictions on the frequency and quantity of foods brought in for birthdays and other celebrations.
  • Institute universal school meals.

If kids don’t buy drinks from vending machines, the schools don’t need them, right?

Update March 9.  Thanks to Coca-Cola for sending a copy of the press release and the final progress report summary.

  • Lisa Eaton-Wright

    I like/agree with all recommendations for improving school food. It appears as though there’s a steady drumbeat for changes in this very direction. But can you please elaborate on “institute universal school meals?”

  • Emily

    Lisa, I think universal feeding programs automatically enroll needly kids in breakfast & lunch plans:

  • nycmom

    In the words of my kids’ middle school classmates, soda is like so five minutes ago. Gatorade, powerade, vitamin water and other flavored waters, flavored iced teas. That’s what the kids are buying and not necessarily from vending machines. What happened to plain, unflavored water?

  • Eric


    Thanks for writing this blog, I’ve been following for about 2 months and I find it very informative. I just finished your book Food Politics and was fascinated by all the stories, it definitely makes me think twice about how the food industry is influencing what I eat.

    I recently read an article in the NY Times about the state of FL purchasing back the everglades from the Sugar industry. The story included many of the same people you wrote about. I was curious if you had more insight or a chance to look into it.


    If you ever have a chance to come to Ohio I would appreciate it very much.

  • I have been in many elementary school classrooms and many children are mislead that sports drinks are beneficial when the students are playing for a few minutes or even if they are sitting at their desk. The are totally unaware what they are drinking is really just FLAT SODA (oh with added “glycerol ester of wood rosin”, such as is in Gatorade.)

    “the Beverage Association is doing a terrific job on reducing soft drink consumption.” But how are they doing with other SSB consumption?
    We know soda consumption is on the decline but beverages with fruit sugar concentrate, or “sports” drinks aren’t those consumption rates of those nearly-empty calories making up the difference or greatly increasing?

  • Dr. Nestle–

    I see that there is a push on Facebook to get “fans” of:

    via an advertisement proclaiming a need for help to stop NY State from putting a “50% tax” on sugary beverages. Industry lies to get this idea killed. The ad, thankfully doesn’t come up very often or I’d quote it exactly. 50% tax psssh. Scare tactics.
    People over corporate profits already!

  • Beverage Association is really doing a nice job in reducing consumption of soda in schools.Their achievement should be praised & it’s just showing in the graph.