May 28, 2010— -- SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- California students seeking a lunchtime electrolyte boost would be out of luck under a bill passed Thursday by the state Senate.
The measure would prohibit sales of sugar-sweetened sports drinks in public middle schools and high schools. It's sponsored by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as part of his effort to combat childhood obesity.
California already bans sports drinks in elementary schools. Sodas have been absent from all school vending machines since 2007.
But older students can still buy electrolyte-replacement beverages - an unhealthy loophole that SB1255 would close, said its author, Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles.
Padilla stressed that the bill would not prohibit student athletes from consuming sports drinks during after-school practices or competitions.
"We're not touching the football team, we're not touching the soccer team," he said.
Critics of the bill called it the latest example of the state trying to control personal choices.
"I think this is nanny government run amok," said Sen. Tony Strickland, R-Thousand Oaks.
He said the bill would simply delay the consumption of sugary drinks until after school, not stop it from happening.
SB1255 passed by a 21-11 vote and now moves to the Assembly.
Schwarzenegger urged the Assembly to act quickly so he can sign the bill into law. It would join a number of other state laws promoting healthy diets.
"Studies have shown weight gain is connected to consuming sports drinks," said Schwarzenegger, a former bodybuilder.