The debate over the part played by carbonated soft drinks in rising levels of childhood obesity in the US looks set to take centre stage once more as a senator prepares to propose measures to limit the location of soft drinks vending machines in US schools.

Among three bills due to be proposed by Senator Tom Torlakson is a law which will require schools to make the acquisition of new vending machines a matter of open debate at school board meetings. As it stands, school principals often negotiate directly with companies regarding the location of machines in schools.

Torlakson said he expected to submit the bills by the end of February. The other two bills are aimed at increasing budgets for school exercise programmes and increasing nutritional options in state-owned vending machines.

Soft drinks vending machines have attracted controversy as the debate regarding child obesity in the US intensifies. Last year, one of the largest schools authorities in Los Angeles county, the Los Angeles County Unified School District board, banned the sale of carbonated soft drinks in its schools.

Soft drinks companies have countered criticism by contending that rising levels of childhood obesity have more to do with a lack of exercise programmes in schools rather than the availability of highly sweetened soft drinks.