State Rep. Carol Alvarado is once again pushing to ban soda in Texas public schools. The Houston Democrat is also seeking to ban sports drinks and other sweetened beverages, but would allow schools to sell or distribute 100-percent vegetable or fruit juice, vitamin-enhanced water, water without sweeteners and milk with a fat content of 1 percent or less.
According to a Dallas Observer blog, Alvarado introduced a similar bill last year that easily passed the House before it was defeated in the state Senate. The legislation was met with opposition from state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, who said lawmakers were "telling [students] that we don't trust their judgment on things,” according to the Texas Tribune.
In-school soda and sugary drinks bans are spreading. A recent study by University of Michigan researchers showed half as many U.S. adolescents as in 2006 were able to buy high-calorie sodas in public schools. However, fruit drinks, sports drinks and other noncarbonated beverages that pack excess calories and sugar can still be easily purchased in school vending machines, stores and cafeterias. More than half of middle school students and most high school students could still buy such drinks in the 2010-11 academic year, the study found.
There is much debate surrounding whether a ban like the one proposed in Texas would actually reduce soda consumption or help combat childhood obesity, as proponents claim.
Across all states -- including those that banned soda, banned sugary drinks or had no ban in place -- about 85 percent of students reported consuming sugar-sweetened beverages at least once in the previous week, according to a study published last year in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. That study determined a soda ban policy did not alter students' out-of-school access to or purchasing of those drinks, nor did it change overall consumption.