An association of dentists in the US has attacked moves by soft drinks companies to halt sales of their full-calorie products in the country's schools.

The Pennsylvania Dentist Association said yesterday (4 May) that, while it supported the move, more had to be done to reduce the consumption of drinks containing massive quantities of sugar.

As reported yesterday, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Cadbury Schweppes and the American Beverage Association have volunteered for a scheme designed to fight rising child obesity. Under the plan, the number of calories in drinks sold in schools will be capped at 100 calories per container, except for certain milks and juices. A can of regular Coke contains 140 calories.

"While we view this agreement as a huge step forward, it is crucial to understand that curtailing obesity and maintaining good oral health are two entirely different concerns," said PDA president Dr. Linda Himmelberger. "We wholeheartedly support the agreement, and are greatly encouraged that this dialogue is taking place, but there remains much work to be done in educating parents and school administrators about the oral health risks posed by sugary sports drinks and juices."

The plan will result in US elementary schools selling only water, 8oz calorie-capped servings of certain juices with no added sweeteners and servings of fat free and low-fat regular and flavoured milks. Middle schools will have the same standard but with sizes upped to 10oz. High schools will also sell no calorie and low calorie drinks, including bottled water, diet sodas, light juices and sports drinks.

The association claimed that many of the beverages mentioned as possible alternatives to sodas in school vending machines, such as sports drinks and juices, have the potential to inflict oral health damage and dental caries, just as soft drinks do.

"While these beverages may contain vitamins in excess of soft drinks, they contain an equal or nearly equal amount of sugar, and widespread consumption of them will result in the same harm to teeth that soda does," the association said.