Soda Ban

The nation's largest beverage distributors have agreed to halt nearly all soda sales to public schools, according to a deal announced Wednesday by the William J. Clinton Foundation.

Under the agreement, the companies have agreed to sell only water, unsweetened juice and low-fat milks to elementary and middle schools, said Jay Carson, a spokesman for former President Bill Clinton. Diet sodas would be sold only to high schools

Cadbury Schweppes PLC, Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and the American Beverage Association have all signed onto the deal, Carson said, adding that the companies serve "the vast majority of schools." The American Beverage Association represents the majority of school vending bottlers.

The deal follows a wave of regulation by school districts and state legislatures to cut back on student consumption of soda amid reports of rising childhood obesity rates. Soda has been a particular target of those fighting obesity because of its caloric content and popularity among children. Read more.

Do YOU think the ban is a step in the right direction in fighting child obesity?

E-mail us at and jump into the debate!

Here's what people in the news are saying:

"It's a bold and sweeping step that industry and childhood obesity advocates have decided to take together." — Jay Carson, a spokesman for former President Bill Clinton

"This is really the beginning of a major effort to modify childhood obesity at the level of the school systems." — Robert H. Eckel, president of the American Heart Association

Check out what FOX Fans are saying:

"I am a Kindergarten teacher in Texas and I think the school ban on certain types of food is absolutely ridiculous. It is the parent’s responsibility to instill good eating habits in their children. The entire child obesity issue at school has gotten out of hand. Perhaps the parents should quit going through the drive-thru in the evening and start making a well-balanced dinner at home. How are the children getting the money to purchase these items of minimal nutritional value at school? My guess would be it's from their parents, and if the parents don't care, why should we?" — Jana (San Angelo, TX)

"It will have no impact. As with most issues, it's nobody's fault but the parents. Stop feeding your kids fatty foods and start making them do chores, instead of letting them play video games and watching TV. Also, parents could start to lead by example and lose a little weight themselves. The way people treat their bodies is pathetic." — Michael (Detroit, MI)

"This will make no difference in children who are overweight. It is not a school problem; it is a home problem. All that will result from this is that the schools will lose out on the revenue and business establishments near schools will have a huge increase in sales before and after school. The government should not, and cannot, force people to make healthy choices." — Jerry (Oakdale, CA)

"Poor eating habits start at home. Just because you remove a 150-calorie soda from the child during school hours, he/she has plenty of time to make up for it after school. Nutrition and exercise classes should begin at kindergarten level. Give the children the tools they need to make better food and activity choices. It's a matter of lifestyle choices." — Rhonda (Utah)

"Government has no business dictating what private citizens eat or drink. I was overweight in school 35 years ago and there were no soda machines in school. The problem now is that they have taken P.E. classes out to accommodate the ‘No Child Left Behind’ law. Put P.E. classes back for all students and watch obesity rates fall." — Karen

"Healthy eating habits begin in the home, not in the school. My school was bogged down with soda and snack machines and we didn’t have the obesity problem we have today. I can’t believe the so-called experts aren’t looking at the trends that weren’t around 20 years ago…hi-tech affordable video games, Internet, television, and, worst of all, a new generation of parents who are afraid to say ‘no’ to their kids." — Stephanie (Barto, PA)

"My concern is the side effects of the diet drinks. I would like a further study of the dangers of aspartame and non-sugar sweeteners before recommending it to children." — April (Illinois)

"I don't think it's the soda. Have any of these ‘professionals’ looked at the homework load our kids have today? We're lucky if we can feed them dinner, get their two to three hours of homework in and put them to bed at a decent hour. When are they supposed to be able to go outside to play? Our kids’ lives are completely different now, time-wise, than when we were kids." — Dawn (Houston, TX)

"This is another reason why my children go to private school. I don't need the government telling me, or my children, what we can or can't eat or drink." — C.N. (Texas)

"It is a step that certainly can’t hurt. It great to see that big business is not just seeing the bottom line, they were not forced into this they see what is happening to kids and people in general. It is still up to the parents and teachers to be sure the kids understand this is only good if they change their habits at home and when out with friends not just when at school." — Harry (Nazareth, PA)

"Why should all students have to conform to the same choice of beverage, just because some overweight students (and teachers) can’t control their diet? Regular soda alone is not the cause of obesity. Choices made in the child’s diet from the time they begin solid food, and the snacks made available to them at home play a much larger role in their physical fitness. Children learn to make good choices based on what their parents make available to them at each meal. Does anyone remember when the only choice you had for a drink at school was milk at lunch or the water fountain in the hall?" — Cathy

“I am a public school teacher, and I think this is beyond ridiculous. As I understand it (our school is working on a wellness policy now), many schools are actually policing the lunches that parents are sending with their children and confiscating anything that does not fit into the ‘wellness category.’ Many schools will not offer pop and popcorn at ball games next season. In other schools, principals were told that they would watch for students who brought pop in their lunches and ask the students not to bring that again. Who is the parent? Teachers can guide and instruct, but not parent. In addition, I happen to believe video games and television have more to do with obesity than drinking a can of soda.” — Erin, 10-year elementary school teacher (Greene County, IN)

“The problem starts and ends at home. When I was in grade/middle school, my parents wrote a check once a week to the school for $6.00. Exactly the amount required to buy my hot lunch for all five days. I didn't carry any other money with me to school. Since when do we allow our young kids to have extra money floating around in their pockets? Parents should not let their kids to take extra money to school. Not only does it allow them buy soda and gain weight, but it teaches them to be financially irresponsible.” — Nicole (Columbia, MI)

“I don't think it will change anything. If they can't get the soda at school, they will get their Super Big Gulp on the way home.” — Robin (California)

“Families need to spend time together walking, playing, biking, and hiking. Parents and children need to get out of the house, away from the computer and TV and spend time with one another. Then, watch the weight drop off and watch unhealthy eating decline. Wow, what a concept!” — Susan

“It is important to realize that this is not a case of the government controlling what children consume. Children are still allowed to bring whatever they want from home. By removing soda from the schools, the schools are no longer facilitating the unhealthy habit. It is the role of the schools to educate children and I think removing the soda provides an excellent opportunity to teach the values of a healthy diet, and to no longer contribute to an unhealthy one. I think this will have some impact on childhood obesity, but certainly will not solve the problem. Parents must also teach children proper eating habits and provide the children with proper nutrition at home.” — Johnny (Houston, TX)

“It’s a step in the right direction. The soda machines probably should have not been there in the first place. Parents do need to monitor what their children consume and what they do, but parents cannot be with their children 24-hours a day. Having the machines in the schools and available to the kids just makes for easier access. The complaints that this is part of a larger problem are absolutely correct, but you don’t solve a problem without taking a first step. The argument that removing the machines because the kids will find somewhere else to buy the drinks doesn’t hold weight. It would be the same as saying you don’t arrest a drug dealer because the drugs can be bought somewhere else anyway. If there were not rules as to what can and cannot be served in schools, then companies who offered school districts the most money could have their products exclusively available to students. Lunches then could consist exclusively of a single company’s line of products. Will these companies provide students with the most nutritional meals? No. They will provide them the foods that return the largest profit, like junk food and soda.” — Sean (Jeff City, MO)

“I think this is one of the most ridiculous things I've heard lately. There is absolutely no data showing that soda is the cause of childhood obesity. Furthermore, many schools fund a major portion of their sports teams though the profits made on the soda machines placed in schools. The removal of machines in this situation will negatively impact the physical fitness programs of these schools and actually cause the obesity problem to escalate. In addition, if school administrators really believe that this will stop students from drinking soda, then they severely underestimate the will power of the students. They'll be selling it out of their lockers.” — Melissa

“I think that is great for the children/teens who have no self-control. Again, it is the parents/guardians responsibility to teach these young people to use common sense and self-control. It is too bad that the school and soda companies have to take that type of action. I know my teens enjoy the refreshing taste of a nice cold soda, whether it is at school or home. My two teens are responsible and have good eating and exercise habits. So why do they have to ‘give up’ something like a soda pop because others are obese and lack the self-control or discipline?” — Brenda

“I applaud the action of removing soft drinks from schools. Will it help? Possibly. However, I must agree in that soft drinks are not the problem; improper diet and the lack of physical activity is. The only way to stay in shape is through proper diet and exercise, not through any super pill or diet. As funding is cut in schools, the first program to be cut is always P.E. Sitting in front of the computer or television playing video games has taken the place of riding bicycles, playing baseball or exploring the great outdoors. Children are still growing and need physical exercise. It is the responsibility of the parents, not the government, to ensure the health and welfare of their children. If parents are too busy working to have the big expensive house, BMW, SUV, and all of the other material items at the expense of their children's health, then they should not have had children. If the job causes the parent to not have time to exercise and eat properly, that is their choice. Parents need to quit blaming others for their lack of responsibility and do what is right for their children. Namely be a parent and not an after-school babysitter.” — Dave (Columbia, SC)

“Removing sodas from schools is a good first step. However, many schools are still going to be selling diet sodas and artificially sweetened fruit juices, sports drinks, and specialty water. Artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame, are terrible. They are toxins and create all kinds of health problems, including neurological problems. It's sad that the U.S. can't even ensure that our children are provided with healthy choices.” — Wanda

“This is a good start, but more is needed to fight teenage obesity. But schools also need to revamp their P.E. programs so that all the kids get an opportunity to work out. P.E. classes are there for each student, so they can gain experience in sports and get a healthy exercise in a supportive setting.” — Mary (North Las Vegas, NV)

“I have yet to understand why elementary and middle schools have vending machines at all. We never had vending machines at school until I was in high school, and I survived. I think the entire machine should be removed, not just the soda. Kids are in school to learn not spend time at vending machines.” — Rachael (Great Bend, KS)

“I think it's a great idea. I know when I was in school, I was unable to make sensible choices and think for myself. The lure of the soda machines was too much for me to resist. Oh, the number of classes I missed because I was too busy sneaking a pop into the boy's room to chug it down. It's a great sign of what's to come that a small group of irresponsible people have finally been able to coerce big soda to capitulate and only sell ‘healthy' drinks. C'mon people! Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Teach it to yourself and your kids!” — David (Pittsburgh, PA)

“I don't believe stopping soda sales in schools is going to solve the problem. I feel it has more to do with how the kids are raised by their family. The attitudes on how we eat are formed by what we are taught by our parents in the early years. Stopping a kid from drinking a couple of sodas during the school day is not going to solve what they are eating at home.” — Alan

“Finally, a partnership that will mean something positive in fighting childhood obesity and diabetes in America. It’s something that I and my fellow school board members in Taylor, Michigan have been fighting for the last three years. This agreement is a win-win for our children.” — Gerald

“It is certainly a good start. I am a health educator in my county and do many presentations in area schools. When I do a health lesson, I always bring an empty soda bottle filled with the amount of sugar it contains. The children are shocked to learn the amount. Many of these children were buying soda at school. Hopefully, the children can make a better choice and educate their parents as well.” — Beverly (Olean, NY)

“As much as I don't like the government dictating every part of my life, there is a societal advantage to people not being overweight — productivity rises and the strains on our medical resources are lessened. Everyone’s health is everyone’s problem, not just theirs or their parents.” — Jesse

“I think that while this is a proactive move on the part of public schools to help fight childhood obesity, it doesn't replace the role of the parents in helping their children make smart nutritional decisions. Just because some unhealthy drinks will not be available at school, it doesn't mean that the students won't find them at home, or pick one up from a convenience store within walking distance. I do think that it's a great idea to not have soda companies make money off of our nation's public school students.” — Kate (Orono, MA)

“I think that obesity is a big problem, but if you had to sit in school for seven hours you would need some caffeine to keep you awake. Are companies even going to agree with this decision? Do you know how much they would lose in profit?” — Adam (Charlotte, NC)

“If the child is obese due to genetic reasons there would not be much the school can do. If the child is overweight due to habits formed at home, changes at school will not impact home behavior unless parents become involved in the meals and portion control of the food they serve. I don't believe the changes at school will make a difference any more than the politics of the current gas crunch will impact gas prices.” — Sam

“Yes, I do think it is a step in the right direction. However, I would also like to see the schools in this country go back to the way they were when I was in school in the 1960s. We were served a balanced meal at lunchtime. The only choices we had were to eat what they were serving or eat what you brought from home. If neither of the two, then you had to do without for the day. If kids are hungry enough at lunch, they will eat what is being served. Kids nowadays are given too many choices. The only choice we had at lunchtime was chocolate or white milk.” — Kathy (Missouri)

“Taking soda out of our schools will not help this very serious issue. While soda can, in fact, cause considerable weight gain, taking it out of the schools will not prevent the children from consuming it after school, on weekends, and over summer vacation. Keep in mind, there are also the issues of fast food restaurants, snacks, etc. We need to teach our children good eating habits early on in life so they can make responsible decisions in choosing what foods they eat. Taking soda out of school won't hurt, but the bigger battle lies ahead.” — Carol (Pittsburgh, PA)

“I am very happy to hear the soda is being removed. It definitely will help with the obesity problem in younger children and it should also be implemented in high schools.” — Lynda (Syracuse, NY)

“I do not think the ban will help. The younger generation needs to get off their butts and get outside instead of watching TV or sitting in front of computer screens.” — Kathy (Philadelphia, PA)

“I think it is another decision that does not address the real problem. People are responsible for what they put in their bodies not companies that make products. If parents were really doing their jobs and making sure kids ate the right things, we would all be better off. Kids should drink pop in moderation.” — J.B. (McHenry, IL)

“This is simply another example of ‘Big Brotherism.’ It is not the government’s role to dictate what people eat or drink.” — Vince (Orlando, FL)

“Most people that drink diet soda are already overweight. Drinking high quantities of an artificial sweetener is not healthy. By dinking it, people think it’s OK to have a high calorie burger and fries. This will just perpetuate the myth.” — S. (Omaha, NE)

“No, I don’t think the ban will help in the fight against childhood obesity. Perhaps, the parents of elementary students could monitor the amount of money a child takes to school, allowing only the purchasing of school lunch tickets. Why else would they have extra money at school? It’s just a new, bad habit that we’ve gotten used to. We always want some outside influence to protect our kids, so how about starting this job in our homes?” — Pru

“Yes, it will help make us all aware of the effects of junk foods.” — Sylvia

“This is just another way that the government will control us and our children. It is up to the parents to control what their children eat and drink, and even what they watch on TV and what they listen to on the radio. It’s not the government or the school systems that need to control this.” — Dave

“I think this is a great idea. Child obesity is a growing problem in American society, and we need to take every step necessary to control this problem. However, the real problem starts in the home. Too many parents today are letting the government; schools, etc raise their children.” — Shane

“There is so much sodium in diet drinks that recent studies have indicated that it causes obesity as well. I think we are seeing a bit of socialism in this deal. Although I don't think it is good for kids to only drink pop, this doesn't seem to be a good answer. Will they also quit selling Coke and Pepsi at concession stands for sporting events?” — K.G. (Texas)

“This will not stop kids from sitting around and eating at home. Parents need to take responsibility, not soft drink companies.” — Randy

“It won’t mean anything. The kids will get the stuff from home or from the convenience store on the way in before classes. It's cheaper than school vending machines anyway. The better way to fight the obesity issue is to get healthier foods into the schools (low-fat, low-calorie, low-carb, non-processed, and even organic!). The schools should also mandate PE, intramural, and interscholastic sports at every grade, and continually educate both children and parents on exercise and the health factors.” — Michael (Riverside, CA)

“Yes, it is a step in the right direction. It may not solve the problem because soda can be brought to school and bought elsewhere, but at least it denies the students access to it while they are in school. Not only that, but maybe we will see a change in children's behavior and study habits due to having less ‘poison’ in their system.” — Brett

“This soda ban is just another reflexive slam against capitalism by vestigial socialists who haven't yet come to grips with the events of seventeen years ago. Since their ideology crashed and burned before the eyes of the world they've had to resort to the cheap emotionalism of, ‘It's for the children!" rather than the shopworn Marxian class warfare singsong — the goal is the same. The obesity epidemic, in people of all ages, began when? Roughly eight years ago. Question: What other sweeping change took hold...roughly eight years ago? Answer: The explosion of personal computing and the Internet. Everybody's fat because they're sitting in front of monitors all day instead of exercising, not because of anything they're eating or drinking. But don't try to explain this to a D.C. power junkie.” — Gregory (Pasadena, CA)

“I totally agree with the ban. It will help nutrition as well as obesity.” — Richard (Lincoln, NE)

“Hooray! As a teacher we see not only health being wasted on these drinks, but also money. We have kids that could buy three notebooks and a pack of pencils for the price of a can of pop. Not that they will, but at least we have a better chance of getting the point across as to what the priority is — and it's not pop!” — Anne (Fremont, NE)

“Why don't they just mind their own business and keep their personal ideas to their own families. This is just more self-appointed do-gooders sticking their noses into our personal lives.” — Ed

“Banning soda sales in public schools are a good start to fight child obesity. But, to be successful, parents have to back up the no-soda at home, as well. Soda intake must be reduced in school and out of school. A healthy well-balanced diet is needed in addition for success in fighting child obesity. Obesity is a hand to mouth problem. If one has the discipline to control what the hand puts into the mouth, success will be achieved. Blaming beverage makers and food producers will not effect change in adult and child obesity. Adults and children must take responsibilities for their own eating and drinking choices.” — Gary

“While I understand that childhood obesity is a growing problem (pun intended), it is hard for me to accept the government intruding into another part of our life. The responsibility for controlling food and beverage consumption for children belongs to the parents and not to the government. Instead of banning soft drinks and other foods that are not healthy, the school systems should increase health education programs that actually teach about healthy eating habits and nutrition, as well as mandate daily physical education programs for all children in grades K - 12.” — Pat (Franklin, VA)

“It appears to be what we do best, apply a ‘Band-Aid’ to issues we face. We need to focus on good education curriculums and then common sense will develop in our youth mind. They will be able to determine and judge for themselves what is good and healthy for them.” — Ed (Central Point, OR)

“ I congratulate the William J. Clinton Foundation for being proactive when it comes to the grave problem of childhood obesity. As an ex-patriot living in Europe, I see a quit noticeable difference in the size of the average European and American every time I return stateside. Now let’s make an effort to bring P.E. back into the school curriculum.” — Kevin (Tirrenia, Italy)

“I completely agree that soda drinks should not be available in the schools. The drink machines should never have been placed in schools. It is another example of exploitation to obtain funds for otherwise worthy expenditures. When an attempt was made to remove these machines from our schools a number of years ago, the resistance argued that the 'profits' from the soft drink sales went to needed supplies for the students and the school. Sounds like 'fools logic' to me — an easy, non-committal way of 'helping'. — Lynda

“No, the problem is parents. If parents would feed their children right and impose some standards, then obesity wouldn't be such a problem. I seriously doubt a soda at school is the ultimate cause of the problem. I believe it's mom and dad feeding their children whatever they want, eating out everyday, and not encouraging their kids to step away from the television, every now and again.” — Joshua

“It's only a small step. Get them away from the TV/GameBoy and get them outside playing. Parents need to take responsibility for their children. It takes two parents, not a village, to raise a child.” — Barbara (Minerva, Ohio)

“Yes! I worked in an elementary school system and was shocked and alarmed at the amount of soda that was consumed each day by elementary students. I can only hope this will lead to better nutrition and education for all young children. I applaud the companies for making a group decision that is about health.” — Gwen

“It will work to a certain extent. The students will find a way around it. They will bring their lunch to school and include a soda in that lunch. We have been soda-free for two years. They either bring the sodas with them in the mornings or they include it in their packed lunches.” — Winnie

“I believe the sugar content in so -called ‘low fat’ products should be investigated more and the findings brought out into the open. Low fat is a myth! It merely means some or most (‘fat-free’) of the fat is removed, but to make it taste good the food industry adds mega amounts of sugar. That sugar then turns to carbs, and so on. This could be a real factor leading to child obesity, as much as the sugars in sodas, candy, processed, and pre-prepared foods. We need to take a big look into the food industry in this country. They are making billions selling us foods that are deficient in whole grains, good fats, etc. and then they add vitamins to sell the public that it is a ‘healthy choice.’ It’s ludicrous!” — Dorothy

“It may stop it at the school level, but it won't stop it at the home level. Kids will still be able to get soda at home from their parents, regardless of age. The key is for parents and the schools to be teaching the kids healthy habits and sticking with the plan instead of trying to ban everything. Teach them how to make sensible food choices instead of limiting freedoms for everyone else.” — Lori (Holderness, NH)

“I think this is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, there are many parents not feeding their children properly which is ultimately were the responsibility should be placed.” — Heather (San Jose, CA)

“While I believe that banning soda sales in schools is a step in the right direction, the problem is not limited to schools. I personally have seen many instances of children with sodas in their lunchboxes that were packed by moms. Parents, whose children participate in multiple after- school activities, fill them up with fast food, and processed foods. Working parents often go the easy route and let the kids ‘snack’ or feed them the processed and fast foods. Going to McDonald's used to be a once-a-month treat. It has now become a place for three meals a day for many families.” — Thomas

“Soft drinks are not the problem; lack of physical activity is. Physical education is not required in our schools and it should be. Sitting in front of the computer or television playing video games has taken the place of riding bicycles, playing baseball or exploring the great outdoors.” — Jerome

“I was overweight as a kid and can honestly say that it wasn’t due to excessive soda consumption. While this move will slightly limit the accessibility to the added sugar in the diet, it will not address the behavior change necessary to avoid obesity. At an early age, this is optimally accomplished by parents.” — Jim (Danbury, CT)

"Yes, it is a step in the right direction. But more still needs to be done." — David (Brownstown, PA)

"There are enemy soldiers on American soil. The names of these soldiers are heart disease, cancer and stroke. They are killing over 3,000 Americans a day. The school soda ban is a great first step in the right direction." — Bob (Fort Lauderdale, FL)

"Just skip to the chase. I think we should have all kid’s stomachs stapled in the first grade. Maybe the Clinton Foundation could get that going." — Mark

"I think there needs to be an irresponsible parent ban. Why do parents let their kids learn such horrible eating habits? My father and mother taught us the importance of eating well and exercising! The ban will help, but it is in no way a cure." — Ed (New York, NY)

"No, it is not a step anywhere. It is just a distraction from the larger issue of how parents aren't doing their jobs!" — Linda (Mobile, AL)

"Yes, I think it is a step in the right direction. Frankly, a few years ago I was surprised to learn they were in the schools at all. I say take them out of all public schools. There needs to be better nutritional education and guidelines along with required P.E. classes. The ban is a first step on a long journey." — Shirley (Melbourne, FL)

"It's just another 'feel good' legislation that our so called leaders will say, 'we know what is going on and we did something about it.' Why did they stop there? Why don't they make it illegal for children under the age of 18 to purchase soda at stores or public places? Why don't they legislate that vegetables have to accompany every meal, even if you bring your sandwich? Why not get rid of all snack items that contain sugar? It's too bad that so many Americans continue to rely on the government to tell us how to live our lives. Too many of us have given up on taking personal responsibility for our well being and quality of life. I guess it's easier for a lot of people to do less and then look to blame someone else." — Keith (Manchester, CT)