AUSTIN -- Austin students are giving up sugary soft drinks in a new initiative to combat obesity and push for healthier lifestyles.
Thursday morning the Austin Independent School District, Dell Children's Medical Center and community groups announced the no-soda challenge at Perez Elementary in Southeast Austin.
Dr. Stephen Pont is leading the initiative. He's the medical director for both Austin ISD and Dell Children's Texas Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity.
"Soda is basically just sugar, water and some extra artificial things thrown in there. It has no nutritional value, and it's a huge amount of extra calories that kids consume," said Dr. Pont.
AISD wants students district-wide to give up soda Monday through Friday for the entire school year. Families who accept the challenge should text "nosodas" to 84444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Supporters can also share their stories at www.nosodatx.blogspot.com.
Since 2003, AISD no longer sells sodas to students on school grounds at all elementary, middle and high schools.
"The trick is what they do when they go home, and in some cases, parents just don't realize the effect it has on children," said Perez Elementary Principal Dr. David Kauffman.
In one 20 ounce bottle of soda, there are roughly 15 teaspoons of sugar, which is double the amount of two candy bars.