updated 9/10/2008 6:44:48 PM ET 2008-09-10T22:44:48

The beverage industry said Wednesday it has continued to make progress in removing non-diet soft drinks from the nation's schools during the 2007-08 school year.

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Such beverages now represent less than a quarter of the drinks offered to students.

The industry promised to change the mix of beverages offered in schools on a voluntary basis. It's in the final year of a three-year phase-in of those guidelines.

Overall, an analysis of the product mix showed a significant change since 2004. Part of that change stems from the guidelines, but many states also banned the sale of soft drinks on school campuses. Soft drinks have fallen from about 40 percent of the drinks that bottling companies shipped to schools to about a quarter of the mix.

Sales of bottled water rise
Bottles of water now take up the largest slice of drinks offered in schools. Waters represented 27.6 percent of the product mix last year, versus 22 percent the year before and 13 percent in 2004.

"We recognize that schools are unique places and we're doing our part to help students understand the importance of balancing calories burned with calories consumed," said Susan Neely, the president and chief executive officer of the American Beverage Association.

Health officials long have expressed concern that schools contributed to rising obesity rates because campus vending machines sold high-calorie and high-sugar snacks and drinks.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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