It was a double dose of good news when Democrat Bill Clinton and Republican Mike Huckabee, the governor of Arkansas, along with the American Heart Association, announced that they had brokered an agreement with the country’s three top soft drink companies (PepsiCo, Coca- Cola, and Cadbury Schweppes and their bottlers) to provide healthier beverages in school vending machines and cafeterias. In addition to the nutritional benefits, they showed that our love for our children can help us overcome our barriers. Republicans, Democrats, companies, and NGOs can choose to transcend their significant differences for the love of our kids. In this case, they did. Under these new guidelines, elementary schools will sell only bottled water, 100 percent juice, and low-fat and nonfat milk in servings no larger than 8 ounces. Middle schools will do the same but with portion sizes increased to 10 ounces. High schools will also allow diet and unsweetened teas, diet sodas, fitness water, low-calorie sports drinks, flavored water, light juices, and sports drinks in servings up to 12 ounces. At least half of available beverages in high schools will be water and no-calorie and low calorie selections. A few months later, PepsiCo and four other companies joined with the American Heart Association and Clinton Foundation to establish voluntary guidelines for healthier foods, including snacks, desserts, and treats sold in schools. “Ensuring that children have healthier food choices at school is another critical step in the fight against childhood obesity,” said President Clinton. “I’m proud of these five companies for making an important statement about this health challenge and an even more important commitment to doing something about it. What we are setting in motion with these guidelines will dramatically change the kind of food that children have access to at school. It will take time, but through coalitions like this of industry and the nonprofit sector, we are going to make a real difference in the lives of millions of children by helping them eat healthier and live healthier.” Now, I think this is one of the best things that’s happened in public health in a while. As chair of PepsiCo’s health and wellness advisory board (which advises the company on making healthful foods and beverages), we collaborated with company executives in meetings with the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation.
It was a double dose of good news when Democrat Bill Clinton and
Republican Mike Huckabee, the governor of Arkansas, along with the
American Heart Association, announced that they had brokered an
agreement with the country’s three top soft... More