Sugary Drinks and ObesityImproving the food and drink options that our nation’s children have access to in school is an important step towards reducing the obesity epidemic throughout the country. New reports show that major headway has been made on this front over the last several years in terms of sugary beverages.

One report shows that between 2004 and 2010, beverage companies decreased the amount of drink calories offered in schools by 90%. This reduction in calories and has been the result of a partnership between the William J. Clinton Foundation, the American Heart Association, and the beverage industry to decrease the number of full calorie beverages available in schools. According to the report, about 8.2 billion ounces of full calorie drinks were available in public schools in 2004. In 2010, that figure dropped to 294 million ounces. Overall, student access to sugary beverages has decreased dramatically over the last several years, but there is certainly more to do.

According to the National Institute of Health, about one third of students in US elementary schools still have access to sugary drinks and high-fat milk. This number is down from 47% in the 2007-2008 school year, but health advocates still want to do more. Officials cannot limit what children are allowed to bring to school to eat or drink, but they do feel that limiting the available options at school will help children make healthier choices and ultimately live healthier lives.

Battling Childhood Obesity

Of course, sugary beverages alone are not entirely to blame for childhood obesity. Factors that can contribute to childhood obesity include genetics, poor diet, and lack of exercise. Including a regular physical education period in schools is an important aspect of improving overall health. Changing the food available in school cafeterias is also an important factor. When kids have access to fresh, organic foods, they can significantly improve their waistline and their overall health.

However, if real change is going to occur, it needs to carry over into the household. Children usually eat one or two of their meals at school, but dinner, snacks, and desert are usually had at home. By educating parents about how their food choices are affecting the health of their children, the nation may be able to make a dent in the increasing waistlines of America’s youth.