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Dude! Who took my soda!?
Author: Adrian Ponce-Rojas





Let’s say that it’s a hot summer day, and you’re at 
the beach playing with all your friends, and you need 
a drink. There’s a water fountain by the restroom and 
a soda machine that sells sodas for .75 cents. You 
check the pockets of your shorts and luckily, you 
have $1.00. For most teenagers, the choice of soda 
usually wins over water.    

More teenagers will choose a soda and slice of pizza 
over water and an apple. Nearly one-third of the 
teenagers in California drink two or more sodas every 
day, according to the UCLA Center for Health Policy 
Research. In California, it is estimated that each 
day two-thirds of teens drink soda, nearly half eat 
fast food, and only a quarter eat at least five 
servings of fruits and vegetables, according to the 
California Health Interview Survey in 2003. The study 
also revealed that soda consumption is associated 
with the presence of sodas in school vending machines 
and fast food meals. 

Yet drinking soda regularly, (regular and diet) is 
one of the most damaging things that a person can do 
to their long-term health according to Dr. Mercola, 
author of the Total Health Program. Plus, carbonated 
soft drinks are the biggest source of calories in an 
American diet, providing about 7% of the calories 
consumed in one day, according to a study by the 
Center for Science in the Public Interest. 

When the students of Pajaro Valley Unified School 
District returned from their winter vacation, they 
found out that the soda machines don’t sell soda 
anymore. Because of a new bill called SB12, all 
Pajaro Valley schools aren’t allowed to sell sodas. A 
second bill, SB965 will extend the state’s ban on the 
sale of soda during school hours to middle schools 
and high schools, allowing only the sale of milk-
based products, water, juice and electrolyte drinks. 
The restrictions will apply only to drinks sold at 
schools and do not affect what students can bring to 
campuses. These restrictions only apply until the end 
of June of 2009. Luckily, the bill won’t stop 
students from bringing sodas to school from home, or 
stop sodas from being sold at after- and before-
school events at junior high and middle schools. 

The legislation, which Schwarzenegger signed over the 
objections of the California Chamber of Commerce and 
food manufacturers, drew praise from educators and 
physicians who see it as a way California can make a 
big difference in shaping the health of the state’s 
children. 

“California is facing an obesity epidemic,” Governor 
Schwarzenegger said at a conference on childhood 
obesity. “Over the past decade, Californians have 
gained 360 million pounds, and more and more, 
children are becoming part of the problem.” 

However, according to Shereen Jegtvig, a nutritionist 
in Albuquerque, NM, the new law won’t help all kids 
lose weight. 

“I think many overweight kids will lose weight, but 
some kids will just bring junk foods to school with 
them,” Jegtvig said. “Removing junk food also 
promotes good health in kids that are at a healthy 
weight too. Hopefully choosing healthy foods at 
school will carry over into food choices before and 
after school.”

Soda is one of the things being blamed for the 
obesity epidemic. A study from the U.S. Department of 
Agriculture shows that for every soft drink or sugar-
sweetened beverage that a child drinks the risk of 
obesity rises 60%.

“Sugary sodas have no nutritional value and the 
calories can add up quickly,” Jegtvig said. “Junk 
food has lots of sugar and/or unhealthy fats and very 
little nutritional value. It may not seem like a big 
deal when you are young, but you are increasing your 
future risks for obesity, heart disease, stroke, some 
cancers and diabetes by making poor food choices now.”

“More kids are overweight and obese than kids from 20 
years ago due mainly to more junk food consumption,” 
Jegtvig said.  

“Think about this too, for the kids who aren't 
overweight high school kids, you generally use more 
calories than adults, yet you are establishing life-
long eating patterns. You may be active enough to 
handle 3000 calories per day now, but that can change 
and if you don't change you’re eating patterns, your 
weight will increase as you age.”

With these new bills, California will have the 
toughest food nutrition guidelines for schools in the 
nation. Tennessee, Arizona, Philadelphia, New York 
and other states will also ban sodas from some or all 
schools.

If teens keep eating unhealthy foods, they 
will keep gaining weight and could develop serious 
health problems. Perhaps parents should have a talk 
with their kids about the risks of obesity and what 
could be the result of all this. If kids eat right 
and exercise in their youth, they 
give themselves a better chance of leading a healthy 
adult life.

For more information on these laws, check 
out: 
www.publichealthadvocacy.org/legislati
on/SB12BillSummary.pdf
www.publichealthadvocacy.org/legislati
on/SB965FactSheet.pdf