Schoolhouse Rot: Soda May Be Worse Than You Thought

| January 17, 2001

Schoolhouse Rot: Soda May Be Worse Than You Thought

It turns out that soda pop may do far more damage to kids' young bodies than rot their teeth, writes Ronnie Cohen in Mother Jones' webzine MoJo Wire. A growing body of research has linked soft drinks to a host of ailments, including broken bones, obesity, diabetes, attention-deficit disorder and addiction.

A recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health 'found that ninth and 10th-grade girls who sipped soda were three times more likely to break bones than those who quenched their thirsts with other drinks,' Cohen says. 'Worse, [the] study found that physically active girls who drank colas were five times more likely to break bones as physically active girls who abstained from carbonated beverages.'

Yet despite this mounting evidence, kids are drinking twice as much soda now as they did 30 years ago. Cohen blames this increase on the explosion of exclusive marketing deals between school districts and soda manufacturers. Cohen quotes a study by the Center for Commercial-Free Public Education, which estimates that over the past three years '240 school districts in 31 states have sold exclusive rights to one of the three big soda barons eager to hook teen-agers on Dr Pepper, Pepsi, or The Real Thing (Coke).'

Cohen elaborates: 'In one notorious case, a Colorado Springs school district in 1997 gave Coca-Cola exclusive access to its 30,000 students for a promise of more than $8 million over 10 years. The catch: The kids needed to gulp at least 70,000 cases of Coke products in one of the first three contract years. One enthusiastic school administrator wrote a letter--signing it 'the Coke Dude'--urging principals to consider allowing kids unlimited access to Coke machines.'
--Leif Utne
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