The association representing soft drinks producers in the US has said it is confident that the industry can see off any legal challenge to ban the sale of sugary beverages in schools.

Lawyers in the US representing the Center for Science in the Public Interest are preparing to file a lawsuit seeking the ban of carbonated soft drinks in schools nationwide. Lawyers argue that soda and other sugary beverages are harmful to students' health and have contributed to rising child obesity rates in the US.

However, Susan Neely, president and CEO of the American Beverages Association, told just-drinks today (9 December) that its members - including Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo - believe they "hold the moral high ground" on the issue.

"Litigation would be totally counter-productive to addressing and solving the complex social challenge of child obesity," she said. "Litigation that serves to demonise one product is not the way to go. We, as an association, feel fairly confident that the industry has acted responsibly in responding to this societal problem."

Neely pointed to the ABA's policy on selling soft drinks in school vending machines that aimed to provide "lower-calorie and nutritrous" beverages to US schoolchildren, while limiting the availability of full-calorie sodas. This policy, Neely added, had firm backing from US parents nationwide.

"This association has worked closely with the three major concentrate companies in the US and we feel we are very well-positioned to anticipate any legal challenge."