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Beverage Assn.: Limit School Soda

The American Beverage Association is recommending limiting the availability of soft drinks in schools across the country. The trade group represents companies that manufacture and distribute non-alcoholic beverages. Both Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo issued statements supporting the move.

The association's board voted unanimously to work with school districts to ensure that vending machines stock only bottled water and 100 percent juice in primary schools. Middle school students would have additional choices like sports drinks, no-calorie soft drinks and low-calorie juice drinks while high schools could continue to stock all types of drinks, but full-calorie soft drinks would be limited to no more than half of the vending machines.

Some nutrition advocates criticized the policy as being "too soft," saying that as written it would do little to curb soft drink purchases in high schools, where most consumption takes place.

The recommendation isn't binding, but the group's board represents 85 percent of the bottlers involved in school vending, said ABA President/CEO Susan Neely.

"Childhood obesity is a real problem," Neely told The Associated Press. "The individual companies have been doing several things to be part of the solution and there was an agreement among all of our leadership that we needed to take another step and take it as an industry."

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