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PepsiCo pledges not to sell sugary beverages in schools worldwide

March 16, 2010 | 12:48 pm

Pepsi Consumer advocacy groups are very happy with a pledge, announced Tuesday by PepsiCo, that the company will stop selling full-sugar soft drinks to primary and secondary schools around the world by 2012.

"PepsiCo is the first beverage company to take such action and should be applauded for doing so," said Kelly Brownell, director of Yale's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, in a statement. The thing he likes best about it, he said, is the fact that the pledge is global--noting that tobacco companies "were notorious for counteracting sales in the U.S. with exploitation of markets elsewhere, particularly in developing countries." PepsiCo already has such a policy in place in the U.S., so that does seem like the main development.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest also applauded the move, which stems from a campaign led by CSPI called the "Global Dump Soft Drinks Campaign."

Caveats: This move doesn't eliminate fruit juice from schools -- and these can pack a sizable calorie punch, even if they do seem to get a pass from many nutritionists. It also won't eliminate lesser-calorie beverages that still are fairly sugary, such as Gatorade. These sports drinks have about half as many calories as do sugary sodas. And, Brownell said, it remains to be seen whether these moves would result in reduced consumption by kids of sugared beverages overall, not just in schools.

Coca-Cola and the International Council of Beverage Assns. were also at negotiations that led to the PepsiCo announcement -- these took place in Geneva, convened by the World Heart Federation. (yes, that's Heart, not Health).

Coke made an announcement last week that it would not sell its drinks in primary schools unless the schools asked them to do so "to meet hydration needs," and will continue to sell sugary sodas in high schools. The Center for Science in the Public Interest doesn't think much of that as a plan. "Shame on Coca Cola," it says in a statement.

Earlier this month, the American Beverage Assn. released a report on school beverages, in which it reported an 88% decrease in total calories in beverages shipped to schools and a 95% decrease in shipments of full-calorie beverages. Read about it here. And read the whole report here.

"The beverage mix in schools continues to shift to waters, portion-controlled sports drinks, diet drinks and 100 percent juices, " it stated.

Here's a story by the Associated Press on the PepsiCo announcement.

-- Rosie Mestel

Photo: The ones on the left won't be showing up in schools around the world, pretty soon. Photo credit: Daniel Acker / Bloomberg

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Comments (8)

That's a good idea. You might be shocked to see what the sugar content of one Pepsi or Coke a day looks like ... accumulated for one year (365 12-ounce cans) . . . .

Ken Leebow

Will do nothing against obesity. Coke is better anyway.

I wonder if the announcement's timing had anything to do with First Lady Michelle Obama speaking today in DC at the Grocery Manufacturers Association Conference.

Is there any behind the scenes diplomacy taking place? Manufacturers bowing to pressure with token gestures, in return for gentle handling by Mrs Obama and her "Let's Move" campaign?

Just wondering...

My kids go to a private school and there are refrigerated cases of full sugar (or high fructose corn syrup) Pepsi in the cafeteria. So when Pepsi says that it is removing these beverages from all schools worldwide, are they only talking about public schools? So they can still sell to private and parochial (and charter?) schools? Hope someone can clarify this. My sense is that the timing of the announcement has more to do with proposed soft drink taxes than anything else.

About time too,The first step to reducing your sugar intake is to become more aware of where that sugar shows up. Start to read the nutritional label on foods you eat. You will find the amount of sugar per serving right under the carbohydrate listing. You can also look at the list of ingredients. Unfortunately sugar isn't just called sugar. Different types of sugars are also referred to as sucrose, fructose, dextrose, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, molasses and sorbitol. If you see a lot of these ingredients listed, or they show up early on the list of ingredients, be aware - you are eating a food that's high in sugar.
8 spoons of sugar are in a single can of coke,MAD

The biggest reason for the obesity in kids today is the lack of exercise. Some schools have eliminated P.E. and some don't even have recess. They need to get out and play.

The next step is to ban all chocolate and strawberry milk from schools. There is as much sugar in the flavored milks as there is in a can of Coca Cola.

But hey, schools get free scoreboards, gym equipment, and many, many other items as long as Coca Cola is allowed to keep their vending machines on campus. Good for Pepsi. This is at least a step in the right direction.

Coca Cola is shameless.

I applaud Pepsico. Now, I'll patronize some of their 'healthy' lines.


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