White House plan to ban soda ads misguided

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First lady Michelle Obama is on target when she urges young people not to drink sugary beverages such as Coke, Pepsi, Gatorade, PowerAde and the many other similar products on the market.

But the plan to use the power of the White House and the Department of Agriculture to ban advertising in schools for those drinks as well as sugar-laden foods will only serve to make it more difficult for schools to raise funds for athletics and other extracurricular activities.

And Obama administrations officials are fooling themselves if they really believe this is going to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks.

“When parents are working hard at home, they need to rest assured that those efforts aren’t being undone when kids are out of their control at school,” said Sam Kass, White House senior nutrition policy adviser.

If the drinks aren’t at the school — and many schools don’t sell them anymore — then how are these kids going to go on a cola bender?

And if the pop is available, then parents should have talked to their children about what they can drink or eat.

Few, if any, kids are going to stop drinking pop or sports drinks because they weren’t on the scoreboard in the school gym.

The fact is people, including those in school, enjoy the taste of those drinks. These are legal products. If parents are OK with their children drinking pop or similar drinks, that’s their right.

Advertising of these products is not done to get people to drink just any pop, but a particular brand.

That’s why school gyms and ball fields across America have scoreboards (usually paid for by Coke or Pepsi) with the company logo or drink offerings. In addition, the companies often offer cash or purchase equipment for schools.

So why deprive schools of needed revenue so folks at the White House will feel warm and fuzzy about their efforts to fight child obesity?

It wasn’t banning tobacco ads that greatly reduced smoking. It was the use of advertising to educate people to the dangers. Even then, it took decades to drive the message home.

The same could be true for sugary drinks and unhealthy snacks.

Continue efforts to promote moderation in the consumption of foods or drinks that are not particularly healthy or nutritious.

But administration officials are making a mistake in believing taking down signs will do anything other than cut revenues for schools.

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