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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

Ban on soft drinks and other unhealthy beverages in schools proposed
Writer: Dionisio P. Tubianosa, Media Relations Service-PRIB
31 March 2014 09:31:51 AM

Lady lawmakers have proposed a ban on the sale of soft drinks and beverages in schools.

"Academic studies have shown that there is nothing healthy about carbonated soft drinks or soda. In fact, there is continuous stream of scientific studies that show the health risks of soda intake," revealed Reps. Kaka J. Bag-ao (1st District, Dinagat Islands) and Rep. Maria Leonor Gerona-Robredo (3rd District, Camarines Sur).

Bag-ao and Robredo, authors of HB 4021 or the proposed "Health Beverage Options Act of 2014", insist on the need for the regulation of the availability of beverages to children in schools.

"Soft drinks contain sugar, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, phosphorus, and carbon acids which have harmful effects on the body," they pointed out.

Under the measure, the following beverages shall not be provided or sold at schools: 1) soft drinks, sports drinks, punches, and iced teas; 2) fruit-based drinks that contain less than fifty (50) percent real fruit juice or that contain additional sweeteners; and 3) drinks containing caffeine, excluding low-fat or fat-free chocolate milk.

"Soda consumption is associated with increased fracture risk due to reduced bone mass. Soft drink intake also increases the incidence of dental caries or decay and obesity especially among adolescents and young adults," the authors said.

Likewise, they noted that Phosphorus, high fructose corn syrup, caffeine and the carbon acids impair the body's capacity to absorb calcium. Soft drink consumption of children is linked to insufficient calcium in the body, impaired calcification of growing bones, and increased risk of bone fracture.

Furthermore, the high levels of caffeine in soft drinks could disrupt sleep and lead to anxiety and DNA damage and hyperactivity, especially among children. The World Health Organization recognized that consumption of soft drinks contributes to the growing incidence of obesity, as well as increased risks for heart disease, the lady lawmakers noted.

On the other hand, the following beverages shall be sold at schools; 1) Fruit-based drinks that contain at least fifty (50) percent fruit juice and that do not contain additional sweeteners; 2) waters and seltzer; and 3) low-fat or fat-free milk, including, but not limited to, chocolate milk, soy milk, rice milk, and other similar dairy or non-dairy calcium-fortified milks.

The authors also emphasized that it is the duty of schools to provide free potable water for students, staff and personnel.

"Local school boards shall include the costs for providing potable water consistent with Sections 99 and 100 of Republic Act No. 7160 of the Local Government Code of 1991," the authors stressed.

Furthermore, the proposed statute provides that all school shall have the duty to incorporate into their curriculum lessons the effect of the consumption of unhealthy foods and drinks, including the effects of sugar in the human body, the lady lawmakers added.

"Recent studies associate soft drink consumption by young children with aggression, attention problems, and withdrawal behavior," they said.

The European Journal of Cancer Prevention reported that researchers from the University of Edinburgh found an association between higher risk of the colorectal cancer and eating "high-energy snack foods" (snack foods high in sugar and fat) and high-energy drinks (including sodas and other sugary beverages), they added.

The lawmakers also noted a 2010 study in Diabetes Care showing that drinking one to two sugary drinks per day increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 26 percent, compared with having less than one serving a month.

According to a European study, the authors added, drinking just one can of soda a day increases the risk of developing diabetes by more than a fifth. Using data from 350,000 people in eight European countries, researchers found that every extra 12 fluid ounce (340 ml) serving of sugar-sweetened drink raises the risk of diabetes by 22 percent compared with drinking just one can a month or less.

"These trends have also been detected in the Philippines. A study involving children aged 6-12 years old in La Trinidad, Benguet shows the prevalence of dental caries and high consumption of sugar. Soft drinks are one of the most common sources of dietary sugar (84%). The 1998 National Monitoring and Evaluation Dental Survey reported the prevalence of dental caries among children aged 12 years was 91.7%," the authors explained.