California “Governator” Arnold Schwarzenegger told the audience at Arnold Fitness Weekend that he wants to replace “junk food” with “fresh vegetables” and “milk” in school vending machines. Before California legislators jump the gun to terminate soda and snacks from high schools, there are a few things they should keep in mind.
Schwarzenegger should know that the nation suffers from a severe physical activity deficit. After all, he led the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports under the first President Bush. Schools across the country continue to cut gym class out of their budgets. A study in the journal Pediatrics found that only 21 percent of American adolescents participate in a phys-ed class each week. Meanwhile, a quarter of kids get no physical activity whatsoever.
A team of Harvard researchers recently found that kids who ate more snack foods and soda were no more likely to be overweight than their peers.
Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Mark McClellan notes: “…it’s perhaps surprising that, in a debate that has often focused on foods alone, actual levels of caloric intake among the young haven’t appreciably changed over the last twenty years.“
Leading studies in peer-reviewed journals like the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine indicate that childhood obesity is caused by lack of physical activity, not food.
Fruit juice and other “healthier” alternatives often have more calories than soda. Of course, no one wants to get rid of juice; instead myopic legislators ban diet soda — a zero calorie drink.
The Austin-American Statesman reports that after the local school district banned snack foods and soda from vending machines, a thriving black market developed, with students wandering around with duffle bags full of sweet contraband.
A recent Gallup Poll found that sixty-eight percent of students think getting rid of vending machines in schools wouldn’t reduce soda consumption.