Soft drinks have now taken up a permanent place in even our daily diet. Since the time it was introduced, it has been portrayed as a healthy drink. However, experts feel that the consumption is too high and has several ill effects on our health. The soft drinks that contain sweeteners in huge quantities are a cause of obesity and tooth decay in people of all ages. Studies indicate there are several disadvantages of carbonated drinks sold at schools and a ban on vending machines can help inculcate healthier diets among children.
There has been a strong debate on allowing soft drinks to be sold at schools. It is in a way encouraging children to have soft drinks as a healthy food which is not always the case in most soft drinks. Supporters of the ban feel that the children are not mature enough to understand the effect of their food choice which is often inclined towards soft drinks and junk foods. This is not a great scenario for the growing child.
The health effects of carbonated soft drinks are mainly concerned with the carbonic acid that gives the soft drinks the bubbles. Some studies suggest that regular exposure to soft drinks causes dental erosion. It may cause substantial enamel loss with prolonged exposure. Some people counter the opposition to carbonated soft drinks with the argument that it is the sugar content which is harmful and nothing else. So, having diet sodas is seen as a solution. However the phosphoric acid does exist even in the soft drinks. The soft drinks often have 2.39 on acid scale with a pH of about 3.0 as against 1 for battery water. Such high level acidity and pH levels may cause damage to teeth. Among the children this can mean greater harm and thus should be avoided.
The major cause of concern is the ever increasing obesity in adolescents. Soft drinks are often bought from the vending machines and tuck shops along with other junk foods. Even if children buy diet soda it means they consume lesser calories but other foods and drinks with nutritional value are ignored. Selling any kind of carbonated drinks means children may not prefer to buy the fresh fruit juices, milk with different flavors or other nutritious options and may prefer soft drinks with little or no nutritional value. That’s a major reason why carbonated drinks should be banned from schools.
Fruit juices are a good choice with very less sugar content. They have nutrients, minerals, proteins, vitamins, etc that are necessary for the human body. Remember fruit drinks are not what we are looking for but 100% pasteurized fruit juices. Fruit drinks may have high levels of sugar while 100% fruits juices rarely need any additional sugar. If children have who fruits it is even healthier for the overall body system. Ultimately water has to become the integral part of diet instead of carbonated soft drinks. There are several proven benefits of drinking water. The habit to regularly have sufficient amount of water would prove beneficial for the overall improvement of the health of children.
In May 2006 several associations including, American Beverage Association, Coca-cola, PepsiCo etc voluntarily announced School Beverage Guidelines to remove high calorie soft drinks from schools. It is a good first step in the battle against childhood obesity.