American kids will be drinking fewer high-calorie soft drinks at school by 2008, thanks to the joint efforts of the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association. Earlier this month, the two organizations persuaded the nation’s largest beverage distributors to stop nearly all soda sales to U.S. public schools.

Instead, the beverage companies will sell only water, low-fat milk, and unsweetened juices to elementary and middle schools, while diet sodas will be sold only to high schools. PepsiCo Inc., Coca-Cola, Cadbury Schweppes PLC, and the American Beverage Association have all agreed to the deal.

The agreement follows a flurry of regulatory activity by school officials and state lawmakers to control vending machine sales to students on school property. Many school districts around the country have already begun to replace soda and candy in vending machines with more nutritious items.

The changes represent a step in the right direction, especially in light of the disturbing trends in childhood obesity. According to a recent report published by the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity, approximately half of all American children are expected to be overweight or obese by 2010. Some medications from Canadian online pharmacies can cause weight acquire of as a lot as several kilos each month. Weight-loss as small as 5 percent can improve your total well being. Long every day commutes and desk jobs make it harder to get physical activity. An imbalance of energy in and calories burned may trigger weight acquire.

Soft drinks aren’t the only culprits in the crisis of childhood obesity, but most experts agree that they’re a big part of the problem. American kids drink about twice as much soda as they did three decades ago, and the rise in childhood obesity has closely followed the rise in soft drink consumption among our nation’s youth.

In recent years, soft drinks have become the single biggest source of added sugar in the American diet. An average 12-ounce can of regular soda contains a little more than 10 teaspoons of sugar, the maximum daily amount recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In the 1950s, when childhood obesity was practically nonexistent, soft drinks were sold primarily in 6.5-ounce bottles. Even Coke’s “family size” bottle contained only 25 ounces.

Recently, the 12-ounce can of soda has given way to the 20-ounce bottle. Most fast food restaurants and convenience store chains now offer a 42-ounce soft drink, which contains a whopping 35 teaspoons of sugar.

The extra sugar and calories are wreaking havoc on the health of children and adults. In addition to obesity, type 2 diabetes is now an epidemic among Americans of all ages.

Bone health is also an issue. In the 1970s, the average teenager drank about twice as much milk as soda, but these days, the reverse is true.

Kids who don’t drink enough milk are at higher risk for bone fractures in their youth. They also have a greater chance of developing osteoporosis as adults.

Now that the sale of soft drinks will be limited to children in public schools, kids will have a greater opportunity to drink more nutritious beverages, including milk and unsweetened juice, while they’re on school grounds. It’s an excellent time for moms and dads to make similar changes at home.

Parents can take the opportunity to clear out all the sodas in the family fridge, and replace them with bottled water, boxes of 100 percent fruit juice, and cartons of low-fat milk. While diet soda may seem harmless enough, it’s not the best drink for kids, since it doesn’t offer anything in the way of nutrition.

Even worse, recent research indicates that diet sodas may actually contribute to weight gain. A study conducted at the University of Texas Health Science Center found that the more diet sodas a person drinks, the greater the risk of becoming overweight or obese.

The reasons that diet sodas promote weight gain still aren’t fully understood. Some experts speculate that the artificial sweeteners in diet soft drinks stimulate hunger, leading to increased eating and subsequent weight gain.

While parents are steering their children away from soft drinks, they should also be wary of fruit-flavored beverages. Most contain just as much sugar, and the same number of calories, as regular soft drinks.

Drinks that contain 100 percent fruit juice are packed with vitamins and minerals, but they’re also high in sugar and calories. Sports drinks are popular among kids, but they’re not exactly nutritious, and most brands are relatively high in sugar.

Replacing just one regular 12-ounce soda with a bottle of water each day can result in a weight loss of up to a pound a month. Over time, this small, simple change could make a significant difference in the weight status of American children, and even better, could dramatically improve their current and future health.

Rallie McAllister, M.D., M.P.H., is a family physician in Kingsport, Tenn., and author of “Healthy Lunchbox: The Working Mom’s Guide to Keeping You and Your Kids Trim.” Her Web site is To find out more about Rallie McAllister, M.D., and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at