PepsiCo Inc. said Tuesday it will remove full-calorie sweetened drinks from schools in more than 200 countries by 2012, marking the first such move by a major soft-drink producer.
PepsiCo announced its plan the same day first lady Michelle Obama urged major companies to put less fat, salt and sugar in foods and reduce marketing of unhealthy products to children. Pepsi, the world’s second-biggest soft-drink maker, and Coca-Cola Co., the biggest, adopted guidelines to stop selling sugary drinks in U.S. schools in 2006.
The World Heart Federation has been urging soft-drink makers for the past year to remove sugary beverages from schools. The group is looking to fight a rise in childhood obesity, which can lead to diabetes and other ailments.
PepsiCo’s move is what the group had been seeking because it affects students through age 18, said Pekka Puska, president of the World Heart Federation, made up of heart associations around the world. In an interview from Finland, Dr. Puska said he hopes other companies feel pressured to take similar steps. “It may be not so well known in the U.S. how intensive the marketing of soft drinks is in so many countries,” he said. Developing countries such as Mexico are particularly affected, he added.