Photo: betsyweber, Flickr
Remember when the biggest beverage controversy to hit the lunchroom was chocolate vs. plain milk? These days, vending machines packed full of soda, sports drinks and sugary juice are the target: A new California bill banning sugar-sweetened sports drinks in middle schools and high schools passed last week. But some officials think the measure robs kids of choice.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sponsored the measure -- childhood obesity is one of his pet projects, and he succeeded in banning sodas from all California schools in 2007. Sports drinks were also banned in grade schools, but they remained an exception for older kids, hiding behind a guise of health and hydration.
But the neon-hued drinks are really just glorified sugar water with added salt, and they pack a lot of calories into that 20-oz bottle. For example, regular Gatorade has 50 calories and 14 grams of sugar per 8 oz serving. But really -- who drinks a cup of Gatorade? Nobody. Guzzling the whole bottle on a hot afternoon -- a more likely scenario -- means kids are actually getting about 125 calories and 35 grams of sugar. Drinking a 32-oz Powerade delivers 280 calories, 220 milligrams of sodium and 76 grams of sugar.