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Thursday, May 4th, 2006 -- 8:36 AM

Audio - 1:40

Are soda companies pulling a "fast one" concerning sodas in schools? One area dentist thinks so.

On Wednesday, the nation's largest soda distributors announced they'd reached an agreement to halt nearly all sales of non-diet sodas to public schools. They announced they'd sell only water, unsweetened juice and low-fat milks to elementary and middle schools. Diet sodas would be sold only to high schools.

Dr. Tom Gelhaus of Owen has long advocated for the removal of soda machines from schools. He says sodas - diet and non-diet alike - have no redeeming health qualities, and their placement in schools is the result of school's accepting "bribe money" from soda companies.

He says the allowance of diet soda sales in high schools makes this a bad deal - at least from a dental standpoint.

"It doesn't make any difference if it's a diet or regular soda. The PH is basically the same - it's just half of what battery acid is," Gelhaus says. "We're not going to see any improvement at all just switching kids to diet soda from sugar-containing soda."

In fact, he says he recently heard a neurologist imply the medial jury is still out on the safety of sugar substitutes.

"He says the body has problems breaking those materials down and sometimes they have affects neurologically on patients," Gelhause says. "There's a lot of controversy. He proposes drinking a sugar-containing soda as opposed to a diet soda, from a medical standpoint."

Gelhaus says soda companies likely "saw the writing on the wall" and reached this deal to allow them to keep their machines in schools.

"It's all bad for children. All it's doing is putting money in the coffers of our schools. Our school boards and our school administration is aware of this - they should be aware of this. They should be working to get these contracts ended and these machines pulled," Gelhaus says.

The agreement was announced Wednesday by the William J. Clinton Foundation.

From the Archives:
[url=http://www.cwbradio.com/news/inc/fullnews.php?id=751]2/3/06 - Local Dentist Crusades Against Soda in Schools[/url]

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