Less sugar, snacks available at Arkansas schools

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Despite warnings and attempts to curb the snacking appetites of children obesity is still a huge problem.

Schools in Arkansas offer fewer snacks, fewer sodas, and fewer chances to eat things that are not healthy.  A move by Pepsi is following a practice already in place in Arkansas.  The fight against obesity, especially in children, is an ongoing battle.  A recent study shows obesity across the nation continues to rise.

"Arkansas has been very progressive in looking out for the needs of our students," said Jonesboro Superintendent Dr. Kim Wilbanks.

Wilbanks said the news that Pepsi will pull high sugar and high calorie drinks from their machines doesn't affect her students at all.

"We're ahead of the country as far as making wise decisions about soft drinks in our schools," said Wilbanks.

"First it was just the soda machines, but they got rid of the soda machines and put in like juices and water," said Annie Camp Junior High 8th Grader Cori Abraham.

Many children in Arkansas Public Schools are growing up knowing they should be healthier.

"Many of our students make better choices than their parents," said Wilbanks.

The Pepsi machines in all of the Jonesboro Public Schools contain water, juices, sports drinks, and some soda but the machines are not always available.

"We have all of ours on timers so that the machine only works during the times the products are available to our students which is primarily before and after school," said Wilbanks.

She said legislation, passed under Governor Mike Huckabee, put measures in to place that continues to influence change in schools.

"In many cases we're making wiser purchases healthier purchases but the students don't necessarily see a change in what is served to them," said Wilbanks.

Many of the products served include whole wheat.  There are salad bars and alternate choices for students.  A report by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences says students are seeing fewer unhealthy choices at school, down to 23% from 64% in six years.

"It's not something that's going to be a quick fix its going to take a whole change in our culture and our society," said Wilbanks.

"When there is a choice and they see a choice and they have a reason to choose that better choice they'll probably choose that," said Abraham.

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