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Four years after Clinton's victory over sugary drinks in public schools, they're more widely available than ever

Tuesday, November 02, 2010
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger

(NaturalNews) It was only four years ago that, with much fanfare, former President Bill Clinton announced the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a project of the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association. This project was supposed to drastically reduce junk food and soda availability in public schools.

It was a voluntary program involving Kraft Foods, Mars, Campbell Soup, Dannon and PepsiCo, and back in 2006, this was a very big deal of an announcement that had Bill Clinton looking like a hero for solving the "junk food in public schools" problem. I remember how CNN and other news sources called this a "victory for public health" and touted it as a model for solving the childhood obesity problem now facing America.

Of course, the rest of us knew better. We quickly realized this was merely a voluntary program designed to create a lot of positive press at the time of the announcement (which it did). But we also knew it would never be enforced. Just a lot of talk, in other words, and no real action.

Today soda availability in public schools reaches an all-time high

Fast forward four years to the present. It's November, 2010. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago publish a study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.That study says students' ability to purchase sugary sodas and sports drinks from school vending machines is at an all-time high!

Instead of vending machines disappearing from schools, they've invaded them. Just as we all knew back in 2006, the voluntary "Alliance for a Healthier Generation" program was a ruse -- a decoy designed to get the government to back off of industry regulation by claiming "the industry can regulate itself."

Four years later, the results are now obvious: MORE sodas in schools. MORE obesity and MORE diabetes among schoolchildren. I guess the industry can't regulate itself, after all. (Is anyone surprised?)

Asking the soda industry to sell less soda is sort of like asking Big Tobacco to stop marketing cigarettes. No industry is going to voluntarily harm its own bottom line.

According to the study, in 2007 only 49 percent of students could buy high-calorie drinks from vending machines or school stores, but by 2009 that number rose to an alarming 61 percent.

So much for Clinton's Alliance. So much for all the spin, hype and grandstanding. Once again, it turns out that food companies always put profits ahead of public health; even when it comes to schoolchildren.

It's time to ban sodas and junk foods from public schools

So what's the real solution to this issue? Ban all sodas and junk foods in public schools, period. A school is not the proper place to poison our children with foods and chemical additives that cause diabetes, cancer, heart disease and attention disorders.

We need to pass laws to reign in the corporations on this issue, because they've proven their voluntary efforts simply don't work.

Selling sodas and junk food to children is wrong. It's something that should be immediately halted across the nation.

At the same time, don't believe politicians when they claim to solve such problems via "voluntary" agreements with the for-profit junk food industry, either. Such agreements aren't worth the paper they're written on.