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High-Calorie Drinks Still Widely Sold in U.S. Elementary Schools
Date:11/2/2010

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Despite the setting of national guidelines that discourage the sale of high-calorie, sugary beverages to kids in elementary schools, a new U.S. study finds that many young children are still able to get those types of drinks while at school.

Under the voluntary recommendations, drawn up in 2007 by the U.S. Institute of Medicine, it is recommended that grade schoolers only have access to water, 100 percent juice and nonfat or 1 percent flavored or unflavored milk outside the actual lunch program, said Dr. Lindsey Turner, a clinical assistant professor of nutrition and kinesiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Her findings on how well schools -- public and private -- are limiting student access to high-calorie, high-sugar beverages is published online Nov. 1 in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Sugar-sweetened beverages in particular have been linked to the growing obesity epidemic among youth, and have been linked with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other health problems.

Turner conducted a nationally representative survey to find out exactly what beverages are available in elementary schools. For the year 2008-2009, Turner said, "45 percent of public school [elementary] students could buy unhealthy beverages at school." In 2006-2007, 39 percent, could do so, she said, adding that, "ideally, that number should be zero."

For the study, Turner surveyed about 500 public and almost 300 private schools each year. "We looked at this for three consecutive years," she said.

"At private schools, the picture is considerably worse," she said. In 2006-2007, 57 percent of elementary school children had access to high-calorie beverages outside the lunch program, and in 2008-2009, 58 percent did.

"Progress is being made, but not enough," Turner said.

The findings seem
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