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

to contradict a report released in March by the American Beverage Association (ABA), a trade group, reporting that 99 percent of school districts with beverage distribution contracts were in compliance with the voluntary guidelines.

The progress being made in reducing unhealthy beverages is actually greater than Turner's study might suggest, said Robert Wescott, an independent economist in Washington, D.C., who worked on the ABA report. The 99 percent figure, he said, came from companies stocking the vending machines.

"The beverage companies don't report milk," he explained, and higher-fat milks account for many of the "unhealthy" beverages found in Turner's report.

In response to the study, the ABA released a statement, pointing out that the new report does not include data from the 2009-2010 school year. "In fact," the statement reads, "the greatest strides in achieving compliance were made during the summer of 2009."

It confirms that the March 2010 ABA report only measures bottle shipments to schools, not beverage purchases by schools from other sources such as box stores. The ABA member companies aren't major providers of milk, according to the statement.

The school beverage "landscape" is indeed changing, according to the ABA statement.

In its March report, the ABA found that "the average elementary school student is purchasing less than 1.0 ounces per student per year of full-calorie soda."

As for the discrepancy between the two findings, Turner said the key may be the phrase "with a beverage distribution contract," as some schools may obtain beverages under other terms and conditions.

For private schools in particular, she said, beverage sales outside school hours can make money for the school.

The findings show that there's an opportunity to do more, said Amy Jamieson-Petonic, a registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

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High-Calorie Drinks Still Widely Sold in U.S. Elementary Schools
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