East Texans react to proposed sugary drinks ban

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - School is almost out for the summer, but that's not stopping Texas lawmakers from discussing a new law that will revamp vending machine contents for public elementary and middle schools this coming fall.

The bill was passed in the Senate last week and is currently awaiting approval from Governor Rick Perry. If it is passed, sugary drinks like sodas and energy boosting beverages, will no longer be accessible to kids at school.

"This choice that we have, those children have of liquid candy or a nutritional beverage that will support their growth and improve their blood pressure. I mean, this is a very important choice and children don't always make those choices," the director for the H. C. Polk Education Center at Memorial Hospital, Tim Scallon, said.

The bill will require schools to only sell water, fat-free milk and pure vegetable juice. But Lufkin ISD superintendent Roy Knight says he doesn't think it's going to work.

"What am I going to do? Arrest a kid that brings a soda in his lunchbox? Those are parental decisions. There are certainly things we want to do to educate kids about being healthy, dietary consumers, but again those are parental decisions," Knight said.

A parental decision, he says, that should be left out of the court.

Right now, Texas is the 12th most obese state and 15.6 percent of our adolescents are overweight. But will this new law curb the so-called 'obesity epidemic?'

"There are a number of studies that have shown that indeed sugary drink consumption does result in weight gain," Scallon said.

So is this the end for Coca-Cola products in our schools? Lufkin Coca-Cola says absolutely not.

"In our footprint, we only do water and 100 percent juice and we've been doing that for several years. This new ban that's coming through is not going to affect how we conduct business," sales manager for Lufkin Coca-Cola, Matt Smith, said.

Coca-Cola has 180 low calorie drinks, Smith said, and because of the company's new anti-obesity campaign they will no longer market to kids under the age of 12 and will continue to make low-calorie drink options.

"From Coke's standpoint it's all in moderation. You can have someone go and take in 1,000 calories of soda, 1,000 calories of McDonald's or burgers or chips or stuff, but it's based on what you balance. Calories taken in need to be equaled out through calories taken out through active lifestyle," Smith said.

And they say that's the bottom line.

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