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BB GOV FOOD 0230.JPGAiming to slim down overweight children, California's state senators voted 21-11 today to ban the sale of sugared sports drinks at public schools during class hours.

Soft drinks are already banned during school hours. But sugar-sweetened electrolyte replacement beverages -- a.k.a. sports drinks -- are still available and have surged in popularity among kids, said Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima, author of Senate Bill 1255.

"This is a a common sense step forward in the effort to address the obesity epidemic in California," Padilla said. His measure now goes to the Assembly.

Eight out of ten drinks sold a la carte at California public schools now are sports drinks, Padilla said, citing information form the California Department of Public Heath.

Studies have repeatedly shown that sweetened drinks contribute to obesity among adults and children, which leads to health problems such as type-2 diabetes.

The bill is part of a package of legislation sponsored by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger aimed at reducing childhood obesity in California.

Padilla, who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Obesity and Diabetes, also authored Senate Bill 1420, which made California the first state in the nation to require restaurant chains with 20 or more locations statewide post calorie information.

PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sen. Alex Padilla confer during a press conference outside Chili's restaurant in Elk Grove on Sept. 30, 2008, where Schwarzenegger signed Padilla's Senate Bill 1420 on restaurant calorie counts. Sacramento Bee photo file / Brian Baer.

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