Here at Sip & Savor, we have often provided our perspective on the importance of physical activity – especially for children – in achieving a healthy and balanced lifestyle. However, even as the complex problem of obesity continues to plague our nation, a story in today’s New York Times highlights a growing obstacle to addressing childhood obesity: how can we promote physical activity when schools are altogether abandoning physical education?

According to today’s story, even in New York, where Mayor Bloomberg is “making childhood obesity a public cause,” the City’s comptroller found “inadequate physical education at each of the elementary schools that auditors visited.” Travel to our nation’s West Coast, and you’ll find more of the same. At Anatola Elementary School in Van Nuys, Calif., “not only are there no gym teachers, but there is also no gym.”

The beverage industry is doing its part to help children learn about the importance of a balanced diet and exercise. Through the national School Beverage Guidelines, we voluntarily removed full-calorie soft drinks from schools across America and replaced them with more lower-calorie, smaller-portion beverages. We delivered on our commitment to parents and schools to change the school beverage landscape – slashing calories from all beverages shipped to schools by a dramatic 88 percent since 2004. Schools are a unique environment for teaching children about both physical education and nutrition – as well as places where children can learn healthy habits that will last a lifetime.

When it comes to physical education in schools, ABA is proud to be a corporate sponsor of “Let’s Move in School,” an initiative of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) to ensure that “every school provides a comprehensive school physical activity program with quality physical education as the foundation so that youth will develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to be physically active for a lifetime.” Additionally, a number of ABA member companies promote other national and local physical activity initiatives as well as support the construction of outdoor trails and playgrounds. Examples include The Coca-Cola Company’s support of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, PepsiCo’s support of the YMCA’s “Activate America” initiatives and Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s partnership with KaBOOM!’s “Let’s Play” program.

After all, it comes down to “calories in, calories out.”  Balancing the calories we take in from all food and beverages with those we burn through physical activity is the key to maintaining a healthy weight.