The American Beverage Association (ABA) has called for the availability of soft drinks in US schools to be limited. Pepsi-Cola North America, The Pepsi Bottling Group, PepsiAmericas, Pepsi Bottling Ventures and other leading members of Pepsi's bottling system have voiced their support of the new school vending policy.

The association's board voted unanimously yesterday (16 August) to work with school districts to ensure that vending machines stock only bottled water and 100% juice in elementary schools, although most of these schools are already soda-free.

Speaking to Associated Press, ABA president and CEO Susan Neely said: "Childhood obesity is a real problem. The individual companies have been doing several things to be part of the solution and there was an agreement among all of our leadership that we needed to take another step and take it as an industry."

In a statement issued yesterday, Dawn Hudson, president and CEO of Pepsi-Cola North America, said: "Parents tell us they'd like help in determining what products are sold in schools, and we're listening.

"We've been working diligently to introduce new, healthier offerings that give schools a broader selection of better-for-you options than ever before. We're also providing incentives to our bottlers that will encourage compliance with the new policy. As an industry, we are part of the solution."

"The school environment is unique, and therefore requires a flexible approach," added John T. Cahill, chairman and CEO, The Pepsi Bottling Group. "This policy strives to be responsive to parents' feedback while continuing to offer a variety of refreshing beverage choices."