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Highlights of the October 2004 Journal of the American Dietetic Association

Parental Attitudes Towards Soft Drink Vending Machines in High Schools

Concerns about the overall health and well-being of America's children continue to rise as the obesity epidemic continues to expand. Many nutrition experts say an increase in soft drink consumption among adolescents coupled with the easy access to soft drinks in school vending machines over the past two decades are contributing factors to excess weight among kids.

To gauge parents' thoughts on school vending machines, researchers at the University of Minnesota conducted focus groups, from which five major themes emerged (in order of importance):

  • Student control/choice: Parents saw high school as a time for teens to have more freedom in decision making and taking care of themselves.
  • Regulations: Most parents were supportive of schools' limiting access to vending machines. They wanted a wider variety of choices available to students with healthier alternatives.
  • Parental knowledge: Most parents did not know much about the soft drink vending machines at their children's schools.
  • The purpose of soft drink vending machines in schools: Parents generally did not know how much money vending machines generated for the schools but did agree that they would rather see the money go to the school instead of a supermarket.
  • Health impact of soft drinks: Parents agreed that drinking soft drinks, particularly in excess, has negative physical effects. However, parents did feel that the health impact of soft drinks was lower down on the list of priorities, below cigarettes, alcohol, drugs or even coffee.

    "As soft drink consumption increases among kids, so do nutritional concerns," says registered dietitian and ADA Spokesperson Patricia Vasconcellos. "Too often soft drinks take the place of more nutritious beverages such as milk and fruit juices. As your best guideline, encourage your children to enjoy soft drinks in mode
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  • Contact: Kelly Liebbe
    media@eatright.org
    American Dietetic Association
    30-Sep-2004


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