Thinking the Drink Again | The Family Fork

Thinking the Drink Again

Remember my recent article "Time to Rethink Your Drink" from about two weeks ago? Well there's more to think about according to a recent study out of the Harvard School of Public Health. "School Vending Machines, Fast Food Restaurants and Sugar Intake Among Children" was published this month in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association and I bet you can just guess what the researchers found?

Kids are drinking lots of sugar sweetened beverages at school from vending machines and at fast food restaurants, bottom line. Sugary drinks include all the carbonated beverages plus the fruit flavored drinks, the sweetened ice teas and so on (remember diet drinks with no calorie sweeteners aren't in this category).

The researchers followed middle school kids in Massachussets and tracked their beverage consumption from school vending machines and fast food restaurants. The upshot is the more kids were exposed to school vending machines with sugar sweetened beverages and the more often they went to fast food restaurants the more of these beverages they bought and thus the more they drank. That's important because this can lead to over consumption of calories and under consumption of important vitamins and minerals.

As a parent or caregiver you think you've done right by your child because you've gotten those sugary drinks out of your house. You have, but how can you control what is available to them in the outside world?

First of all they need to be educated about the total calories and lack of nutrition in these beverages so they can learn to make better choices. But these beverages also need to be less accessible. They shouldn't be sold in schools. School needs to be a healthy place!

This message does seem to be getting out somewhat as several states and local school districts either have or are considering regulations to limit sugary drinks in our schools. If your state or school district doesn't already have something in place or is still in the consideration phase, get behind them and support change. Contact your state senator, assembly person, and local school board members to urge them to vote for change. Get parents and teachers together to advocate. Your support is very meaningful.

Use this as ammunition: The Clinton Foundation recently brokered a deal with the American Beverage Association and other soft drink companies to get them to voluntarily limit access to these drinks in schools. The writing is on the wall but more changes are needed.

As for the fast food issue, don't take your kids there and if you do either make it less often or don't order sugary sodas and drinks. Again educate your child so when she goes to a fast food restaurant without you she'll know how to make healthier choices.

To view the abstract of the beverage article go to

To learn more about the deal with the Clinton Foundation go to

Let me know your thoughts on this issue, you may disagree with me or maybe not. Let's hear it.
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About the Author

Registered dietitian Andrea N. Giancoli is a nutrition advocate, consultant and educator.