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Cutting down on junk

Rosette Gonzales

Students in the Burbank Unified School District might have to tame

their cravings for sugary drinks and learn to love their vegetables

if two state Senate bills are successful.

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One bill, SB 965 -- the Soda Ban Bill -- would expand current

restrictions on beverages, and the School Nutrition Standards Bill --

SB 12 -- would more strictly regulate fat, sugar and calories of

foods sold on kindergarten through 12th-grade campuses.

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Ruth Frechman, local spokesperson for the American Dietetic Assn.,

is starting a movement in Burbank to garner support for the bills.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction to fight childhood

obesity,” said Frechman, also a member of the committee designing

Burbank Unified School District’s wellness policy for 2006.

The soda ban bill would expand current California law that

eliminated the sale of soda last July in kindergarten through eighth

grades during the school day.

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If passed, the bill would expand the law through high school,

allowing only drinks without added sweeteners and electrolyte

replacement beverages with no more than 42 grams of sweetener per 20

ounces.

“The community, the schools and the families all need to get

involved here,” Frechman said. “Studies show that kids aren’t

drinking enough water and they aren’t getting enough calcium in their

diets.”

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The nutrition standards bill would strengthen legislation passed

in 2001 to require that a snack sold can get only 35% of its calories

from fat, 10% from saturated fat and have only 150 calories for elementary schools and 250 calories for middle and high schools. If

passed, the standards would be effective July 2007.

The district does not have an official stand on the bills, but it

wouldn’t hurt if they were passed, said Joel Shapiro, assistant

superintendent of instructional services.

“We’re not in favor of selling sugary drinks or junk food,”

Shapiro said. “But if legislation passes it will take some of the

decision-making out of our hands.”

Taking the decision out of local hands is exactly why the Burbank

Chamber of Commerce opposes the soda ban bill.

“The way these [bills] are written, the state is taking more

control of local issues and we would in general be against that,”

Bill Jacot, president of the Burbank Chamber of Commerce said. “Of

course we’re in favor of healthy kids and we think regulating those

things should be a local issue.”

But setting state standards to combat childhood obesity and

diabetes are a step in the right direction, state Sen. Jack Scott

said.

“We’ve become more acutely aware of the impact of sodas and junk

food upon children,” Scott said. “We can reorient our tastes and

these are bills that are designed to impact the health of children

and form healthy lifetime eating habits.”

It has taken years for research to indicate the negative impact

some foods have on children’s health, but if students are presented

with more options, they will gradually begin to choose the healthier

ones, like fruit over candy, or water over soft drinks, Frechman

said.

“So, really what we want is to give kids healthy choices so that

way they can choose themselves,” she said.

QUESTION

Should bills against soda, and which promote nutrition in schools,

be passed? E-mail your responses to burbankleader @latimes.com; mail

them to the Burbank Leader, 111 W. Wilson Ave., Glendale, CA 91203.

Please spell your name and include your address and phone number for

verification purposes only.


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