Friday, February 9, 2007

Coke Kills

Originally posted: May 4, 2006

Apparently that's what health experts Bill Clinton and the American Heart Association want kids to think. In an unprecedented deal today, soda behemoths Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Cadbury Schweppes are voluntarily withdrawing all of their high-calorie soda and sweetened drinks from being sold in American schools. ("Voluntary" the same way you "volunteer" for the draft). These drinks will be replaced with water, low-fat and non-fat milk, and juice drinks in elementary schools. High school students will be able to purchase diet sodas, sports drinks, and again--water. The plan, put into place over the next three years, and will affect 90% of American schools or 35 million children.

Okay. So let me ask you this. What child ever said, "If I were principal for a day, I'd stock all the vending machines with...100% juice drinks, and all the water fountains would dispense...water"--?? Kids don't like water, that's why they drink soda. So maybe it's not loaded with vitamins. Kids need soda and sugar to give them the energy to carry 30 pounds of books and pull all-nighters studying for the PSAT.

Look, I know that we kind of have a problem with obesity in America (apparently 1/3 of American children are overweight?). And according to Time Magazine the average teenager gets as much sugar from soft drinks as they should get in a whole day from regular foods. Well, that's not the soda companies' fault. They would make healthier soft drinks, but people don't like those as much because they don't taste as good. It's not complicated. Maybe we haven't done enough to emphasize the correlation between sugary drinks and obesity. Well that's what the nutrition label is for. If you can read it, you can drink it.

But here, what we're saying to our kids is, we don't trust you to make healthful decisions. Children can and should decide for themselves what's best for their bodies. I think most of us know this, that's why we're okay with the death penalty for children that commit violent crimes--because we know that they are capable of making mature, conscious decisions. Which means they should be punished when they don't. With death, or in this case, obesity.


P.S. Mom: this was written ironically. I am jazzed about the deal. I know, I'm confusing.

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