The Colorado State Board of Education has voted 4 to 3 to approve new rules that would eliminate a seven-year ban on diet soda in high schools.
Chalkbeat Colorado reports that if the board's preliminary vote is confirmed next month, the rules will clear the way for diet soda to be sold in high school vending machines and school stores—although individual school districts could decide not to stock the drinks. Regular soda will continue to be banned because it exceeds maximum calorie limits under state and federal rules.
Education department officials said they recommended the change to align Colorado rules with new federal rules and reduce schools’ regulatory burden.
The board members in favor of the new rules asserted that it is the job of parents, not schools, to determine whether children make healthful choices. Some also contended that the ban on soda has done nothing to reduce obesity.
Those opposed to the changes argued that re-introducing diet soda sends a bad message to students and benefits only administrators and boosters who want to bring in extra revenue from soda sales.
The rules won’t be officially adopted until the board votes on them a second time at a meeting next month.