In 2003, the state of Texas took a halfhearted swing at skyrocketing childhood obesity rates when it took steps to ban the sale of soda and candy -- though only in elementary schools and only during breakfast and lunch. Those rules were strengthened in 2009, but middle and high school students can still get sugary beverages.
State Representative Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, is out to change that. She filed a bill on Monday that would outlaw schools from providing or selling sweetened beverages -- including but not limited to soda, sports drinks, Kool-Aid and frozen margaritas -- on Texas' public school campuses. Still allowed would be 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice, vitamin-enhanced water, non-fortified water and milk, 1percent fat or less.
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This will be Alvarado's second go at the measure. She introduced a more or less identical bill last year, which easily passed the House despite opposition from folks like Representative Jodie Laudenberg, a Republican from Parker, who said lawmakers were "telling [students] that we don't trust their judgment on things," apparently forgetting that she was referring to teenagers, whose judgment absolutely should not be trusted.
The bill hit a dead-end in the Senate, where it died in committee.
It's a new day, and perhaps Alvarado's colleagues in the other chamber will move the bill forward this time. Or, perhaps not. There is scant evidence that such bans actually reduce kids' consumption of sugary drinks or make a dent in childhood obesity.
One could still argue that schools are sending the wrong message by selling the stuff, but question remains: What about straight corn syrup? It's basically corn juice, albeit processed into unrecognizable form. Does Alvarado's bill leave the door open for some cash-strapped school district to peddle shots of corn syrup to sugar-deprived pupils? I think it does.