Letters To The Editor


January 19, 2004

Partnerships with bottlers aid Md. schools

In a whirlwind of political cries that something must be done to manage the epidemic of obesity, the editorial "Soda under siege" (Jan. 12) called for bans on the sale of certain beverages in high schools. Unfortunately, it is impossible to pick a "poster child" for the obesity problem, and this move would do little to decrease obesity rates among students.

Childhood obesity presents a serious and complex problem. While there is no easy answer, the most important things children and adults can do to achieve a healthy lifestyle are to eat a balanced diet and get at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day.

Schools are second only to parents as care providers. That is why schools must play a more constructive role when it comes to student health. Sadly, national statistics show only 25 percent of students in kindergarten through Grade 12 receive daily physical education, and schools spend only five hours per academic year on nutrition education.

The real solution to the obesity problem is daily physical education and more nutrition education for every school-age student. As a society, we have got to get children and adults to log off the computer, turn off the television, get up off the couch and get moving.

Maryland schools have developed successful partnerships with the local bottling companies. These partnerships support academic programs and important after-school activities at a time when many schools lack the funding necessary to provide a well-rounded education for their students.

Local educators, in consultation with parent and community groups, determine what beverages are offered in vending machines and how the proceeds will be spent. These partnerships offer students a wide variety of beverage choices, including bottled water, teas, juices, diet beverages and sports drinks.

And the extra revenue allows schools to meet a wide range of needs including scholarships, books, computers, video equipment, security systems, prom needs, sports equipment and clothing for needy students.

Ellen Valentino


The writer is executive vice president of the Maryland Soft Drink Association.

Sugar isn't cause of hyperactivity

Sugar does not "exacerbate hyperactivity" as the editorial "Soda under siege" (Jan. 12) claims that it does. Many studies have shown that sugar doesn't negatively affect children's behavior. This misconception persists partly because it is repeated so often.

High-sugar, low-nutrient foods such as soda can displace nutrient-rich foods children need and can contribute calories that, if not used, will be stored as excess body fat. And fermentable carbohydrates such as the sugar in fruit and cooked starch can also promote cavities.

There are good reasons to limit children's consumption of empty-calorie foods such as soda, but hyperactivity isn't one of them.

Peggy K. Yen


The writer is a nutrition consultant.

Gov. Ehrlich is doing what the voters want

It's hard to not be amused by the Democratic members of the General Assembly (and Sun reporters) who criticize Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. for his lack of accomplishments during last year's session ("No `free pass' given for Assembly session," Jan. 14).

But without resorting to major tax increases, Mr. Ehrlich was able to balance a state budget that was drowning under the weight of the accomplishments of the last governor and past sessions of the General Assembly. If the governor does nothing more during his first term than continue to rein in the tax-and-spend desires of the Assembly, his popularity will remain at its high level and help ensure him a second term.

Mr. Ehrlich is doing exactly what a majority of Maryland voters elected him to do.

Todd Eberly


The wrong nominee for the environment

I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s nomination of Kendl P. Philbrick to head the Maryland Department of the Environment.

From what I read in Tom Horton's column "Philbrick working to learn the ropes," (Jan. 9), it appears Mr. Philbrick possesses no experience working on environmental issues and programs.

As nitrogen pollution in the Chesapeake Bay continues to increase, destroying an economic resource valued at billions of dollars, can we say we've picked the right person for a job of such paramount importance?

If not, this reflects poorly on Maryland's leadership.

Will Weiskopf


Maglev can lead us to a cleaner future

The Sun's news item "Mayor to discuss maglev with Chinese official today" (Jan. 12) was both right on time and on target, and is about one idea on which Mayor Martin O'Malley and Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. can work together for the good of all citizens.

If this maglev project is a success, I would propose that a second line be built between Baltimore and Ocean City to reduce automobile traffic in that corridor as well.

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