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Drinks are major source of sugar
In a policy statement issued earlier this year, the AAP notes that sweetened drinks, including soda and fruit drinks, are the primary source of added sugar in children’s daily diets. The Academy reports that:
• The consumption of sugared soft drinks can lead to an increased risk of overweight and obesity, dental cavities and potential enamel erosion; and
• Between 56 and 85 percent of school-age kids drink at least one soft drink per day.
The AAP notes that while soft drink sales provide revenue for school districts, those districts could instead sell water, real fruit juices and low-fat milk in their vending machines. The machines should not be placed in a school cafeteria and the sale of sweetened soft drinks should not be sold “as part of, or in competition with, the school lunch program,” the AAP says.
The role of pediatricians & parents
The policy also recommends that pediatricians teach school authorities, children and parents about the risks of soft-drink consumption, in hopes of eliminating the drinks in school buildings. Pediatricians, the AAP says, can advocate for:
• the creation of a school nutrition advisory council;
• public discussion before signing a food or drink vending contract; and• eliminating the advertising or drinking of sweetened soft drinks within the classroom.