Sugary sodas are going to be much harder to find in America’s schools by the beginning of the 2008–2009 school year. The Alliance for a Healthier Generation—a joint initiative of the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association—has worked with the nation’s largest beverage representatives to limit portion sizes and reduce the number of calories available to children during the school day. Under new guidelines, schools will sell only lower-calorie and nutritious drinks.

“This agreement is an important example of the industry voluntarily working with others to address one of the most critical challenges facing our nation—childhood obesity,” said Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, chairman of the National Governors Association and 2006 IDEA Fitness Inspiration Award winner. “I commend the parties involved in this agreement and look forward to seeing its positive impact on the health of our children.”

The guidelines will cap the number of calories at 100 per container, except for certain milks and juices with nutritional values that warrant more calories. Elementary schools will sell only water and 8-ounce, calorie-capped juice servings with no added sweeteners, as well as fat-free and low-fat regular and flavored milks. Middle schools will apply the same standards but increase the portion sizes to 10 ounces. At least half of available beverages in high schools will now be water, no-calorie drinks and low-calorie selections. High schools may sell juices and sports drinks in 12-ounce containers (not to exceed 100 calories). Pure juices and nonfat and low-fat milks will also be sold in containers up to 12 ounces.

Under the agreement’s terms, the beverage industry will strive to extend these standards to 75% of the nation’s schools prior to the beginning of the 2008–2009 school year. The goal is to fully implement the guidelines prior to the 2009–2010 school year, provided that schools and school districts are willing to amend existing contracts.