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January 5, 2004

Soft Drinks: The New Axis of Evil

Just when I thought I'd read all the wacky ideas in the world, the Associated Press carries an amusing article titled "Doctors fight soft drinks." From the article: bq. Soft drinks should be eliminated from schools to help tackle the nation's obesity epidemic and pediatricians should work with their local schools to ensure that children are offered healthful alternatives, the American Academy of Pediatrics says. bq. ...the new policy says elementary and high schools should avoid [soft drink vending machine contracts] and that those with contracts should impose restrictions to avoid promoting overconsumption by kids. Sorry, American Academy of Pediatrics, but I'm going to have to disagree with you here. While I do agree that putting vending machines in elementary schools is a little excessive (since most K-6ers are lacking in self control), taking soda machines out of high schools will result in nothing less than mutiny. Beside which, soft drinks are not the sole cause of morbidly obese children running around: most of it starts at home.
We have a generation of parents that suck at parenting. Children are permitted to sit on their butts all day rather than exercising (e.g., playing outside). Overprotective parents drive their sons and daughters three houses down the street to a friend's place or a block to school because they're paranoid about terrorism or kidnapping. Parents overfeed their children when they're young and don't teach them good nutritional habits as they grow. Some parents think it's cute when their kids throw temper tantrums, shoplift, or throw their food. Parents aren't intervening when their sons or daughters are playing PlayStation for 3, 4, or 5 hours straight (back in my day, your thumb would fall off if you played that long (NES forever!)). Soft drinks are truly the least of our worries. Perhaps what we should be doing instead is making PE a priority again at elementary and middle schools. When I went to school, you had physical education every year K-8 and had to have at least one credit (1 full year) over grades 9-12. With budget cuts, some schools have eliminated or dramatically cut back on phys ed programs. In a generation of sedentary children, where PE may be the only exercise they have, of course we're going to see an increase in obesity. That's assuming there isn't some element of genetics or environmental differences at work here. I have noticed every year that incoming freshmen at my former high school and at my university are on the whole shorter than the previous years' students were. With girls and boys now reportedly hitting puberty earlier and earlier, what's to say some chemical or hormone now in our foods coupled with a sedentary lifestyle isn't leading to short, fat, abnormally early-developing children? But let's just take the easy answer: soda is making our children fat! Ban it!

Posted by Colin at January 5, 2004 11:16 AM

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