The US soft drinks industry will debate the possibility of a self-imposed ban on carbonated soft drinks in elementary and middle schools and restrictions on sales in high schools, it was reported yesterday.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said industry leaders, which include PepsiCo and The Coca-Cola Company, are thought to be voting on the issue this week in a conference call of the American Beverage Association's board. The newspaper sourced several people familiar with the trade group's discussions.

The discussion comes as California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger increased the pressure on the soft drinks industry by supporting legislation that would extend the ban on soft drinks in schools from lower grades to high schools in the state.

In a news conference yesterday, Schwarzenegger said: "This legislation is absolutely critical, not only for bringing more healthy food into our schools, but also because California is facing an obesity epidemic."

The law he is supporting would only allow high schools to sell soda 30 minutes before and after the school day.

During the actual school day, only water, milk, drinks that are at least 50% fruit juice with no added sweeteners and sport drinks designed to replace electrolytes would be allowed to be sold.