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US: Beverage industry cuts calories for school children

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US soft drinks producers have agreed to stop selling their full-calorie products in the country's schools in a bid to fight rising child obesity.

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Cadbury Schweppes and the American Beverage Association volunteered for the scheme under a plan drawn up by former US president Bill Clinton. 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.

Some 75% of US schools should be covered by the agreement by the start of the 2008-2009 school year, with the industry "striving" to implement the scheme nationwide by the following year.

"These industry leaders recognise that childhood obesity is a problem and have stepped up to help solve it. There is a lot of work to be done to turn this problem around but this is a big step in the right direction and it will help improve the diet of millions of students across the country," said President Clinton, whose New York-based foundation backed the plans.

US elementary schools will only sell 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.

"There are no shortcuts to solving the obesity problem," said Dawn Hudson, president and CEO of Pepsi-Cola North America. "It's a much broader issue then what students eat and drink. It is also about what they learn and what they do. This alliance provides schools with real-world, common sense solutions that give students the tools they need to lead healthier lives."

Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages president and CEO Gil Cassagne added: "We are taking an important step forward by working with parents, community leaders and school officials to collectively focus on healthier lifestyles for children."


Sectors: Soft drinks, Water

Companies: Cadbury, PepsiCo

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