Sugar-Free Public School Sets an Example


The children in the cafeteria drink fruit juice, lunch on whole wheat sandwiches, and munch on corn kernels. The most popular vegetable at Brown Mills Elementary School is broccoli, according to its principal, and the favorite dessert is peach. There are no bake sales here, no birthday cupcakes, no cookies or ice cream. Don't even think about bringing sugar to Browns Mill Elementary School.

As schools around the United States have begun removing soda and junk food from their premises, the elementary school in Lithonia, Georgia, a predominantly African- American school, was ahead of the curve, cutting out sugar 10 years ago under the watch of principal Dr. Yvonne Sanders-Butler.

"Childhood obesity, it's our tsunami, it's our Katrina," she said. "If we're really thinking about the best interests about the young people today, then we will take a stand."

Some may think the steps are draconian, but a glimpse inside the school's cafeteria shows hundreds of students coolly sipping their juice and other drinks and eating, instead of screaming, squealing and swapping snacks. Soothing jazz music plays in the cafeteria.

The school day starts with an hour of jumping jacks, exercising and dancing -- one morning to the beat of "Whoomp! (There It Is)" as the children bounce and sing along. "When students are healthy, they do their best work..." Sanders-Butler said. "We want to make sure we're providing foods that will not only nourish the body, but also brain foods."

In the first six months of the sugar ban, disciplinary incidents went down 23 percent, counseling referrals decreased 30 percent, and in the first years of standardized test scores, reading scores improved 15 percent, she said. Browns Mill was named a national blue ribbon school and a Georgia school of excellence in 2005.—From CNN