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Release: Feb. 15, 2002

UI To Host Public Forum On Soft Drinks In Iowa Schools March 8

The University of Iowa will host a public forum on the issue of soft drinks in Iowa's public schools from noon to 1:30 p.m. Friday, March 8 in Galagan Auditorium in the UI Dental Science Building.

The forum, "Soft Drinks in Iowa Public Schools: Emerging Epidemics and Possible Solutions," will give health care professionals and the public the opportunity to learn more about a growing public health issue, said Jonathan Shenkin, D.D.S., a pediatric dentistry resident at the UI College of Dentistry and moderator for the event.

"This is an important issue in terms of children and tooth decay prevention, but also in terms of obesity, diabetes and other long-term health effects related to kids consuming all these empty calories at school," Shenkin said.

Panelists for the forum include Iowa State Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City); William Jacobson, Ph.D., superintendent of the Marion Independent School District; Michael Kanellis, D.D.S., UI associate professor and chair of pediatric dentistry; Linda Snetselaar, Ph.D., UI associate professor of epidemiology; and Eva Tsalikian, M.D., UI associate professor of pediatrics and director of the department's endocrinology division.

In October 2000 at its annual meeting, the American Dental Association passed a resolution opposing contractual arrangements that influence consumption patterns by promoting increased access to "soft drinks" in schools for children.

"The Association encourages state and local dental societies to work with education officials, pediatric and family practice physicians, dietetic professionals, parent groups, and all interested parties to increase awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy vending choices in schools, and to encourage the promotion of beverages of high nutritional value," according to the ADA.

In the Iowa Legislature, a bill has been introduced to require the Iowa Department of Education to conduct a study concerning the prevalence of carbonated beverage sales in Iowa's K-12 schools.