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Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, introduced legislation last week that would ban the sale of sugary sports drinks from middle and high school campuses throughout California.

Assembly Bill 1746 would amend existing education code that already bans the sale of sodas in schools. Sodas and other beverages high in sugar are among the most prominent factors contributing to the nation’s obesity epidemic.

“This bill aims to set the example of making healthful choices in life,” Williams said. “Research shows that these sugary drinks directly relate to higher incidents of obesity and many youth — and adults — are still consuming them unnecessarily. These drinks should not be a replacement for water.

“Teachers have to do a tough enough job as it is, and I believe this will give a little help. A 32-ounce sports drink has 14 teaspoons of sugar. Kids jacked up on that much sugar have a harder time learning.”

Specifically, sports drinks or electrolyte replacement beverages are designed to replace fluids after vigorous exercise and generally contain sodium and potassium to help fluids absorb in the body. Even after strenuous exercise (continuous exercise for more than 60 minutes), research indicates that sports drinks serve no added benefit over water.

These sports drinks are already banned from elementary school campuses.

“Sports drinks are an inappropriate option for California students. They were designed for athletes who have been sweating for an hour or more, not for children as they walk across campus or eat their lunch,” said Dr. Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy. “Assemblymember Williams’ bill will close a loophole that has allowed the beverage industry to continue using California public schools to sell products that contribute to childhood obesity and diabetes.”

“One in three California students is overweight or obese. We know that sugar-sweetened beverages, including sports drinks, are a major contributor to the problem,” said James Hay, M.D., president of the California Medical Association. “There is a common misconception that sports drinks, also known as ‘electrolyte replacement beverages,’ are healthy, yet many contain high fructose corn syrup and/or other calorie-laden sweeteners that have been linked to the rise in childhood obesity, the primary cause of Type 2 diabetes. CMA is pleased to join Assemblymember Williams and the other groups committed to public health in sponsoring this bill.”

The CCPHA and the California Medical Association are sponsors of AB 1746.

In addition to this piece of legislation, Williams is also supporting the national Kick the Can campaign, a project of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy. By going to Williams’ website and following the link to, visitors can access a variety of information and advocacy tools to learn more about these sugary beverages, the marketing of them and how to make more healthful choices.

— James Joyce is a field representative of Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara.