The National Soft Drink Association was relieved yesterday [Wednesday] when nutrition researcher Guy Johnson told the California Senate Health and Human Services Committee that legislative efforts to restrict or ban the sale of carbonated soft drinks in schools are not the "silver bullet" that will put an end to childhood obesity.

Johnson, PhD, remarked: "California and the nation are in the midst of a nutritional epidemic of obesity.

"We need more nutrition education not food restrictions that healthcare professionals who counsel overweight patients know will not work. We need every school-aged child to receive at least 20 minutes of physical activity each school day, as the Surgeon General recommends.

Johnson added that there is no nutritional reason why soft drinks should not be made available, as consumed in moderation, they "fall within the Dietary Guidelines established by the USDA and the American Dietetic Association (ADA)".

"Indeed," he added, "the USDA's most recent soft drink consumption data for school-aged children paints a picture far different than what many people assume to be the case. For example, the data show that the average adolescent consumed just about a can of soda a day. Nearly one-fourth of teens do not drink regular carbonated soft drinks and only 5% consumed more than three per day."

Johnson highlighted the assertion of Dr Anne L. Mardis, MD, MPH now of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that "focus on sugar as an independent risk factor for chronic disease and hyperactivity should be de-emphasised".