Banning Sugared Drinks in Schools Doesn't Lower Student Consumption

Jim Liebelt | Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University | Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Banning Sugared Drinks in Schools Doesn't Lower Student Consumption

Banning sugared beverages from schools will limit children's access to calorie-laden sodas and sports drinks but will do little to lower their overall intake of the drinks, according to new research.

Adolescents — no surprise — are adept at finding ways to get the things they can't have, so state policies banning all sugar-sweetened drinks from public schools and providing only water, milk or 100% fruit juices hasn't had the intended effect of steering kids away from drinking sugared drinks: the average teen consumes about 300 calories per day — that's nearly 15% of his daily calories — in sweetened beverages, and the food and beverage industry is only too happy to feed this need.

Researchers tracking 6,900 fifth-graders from public schools in 40 states through the eighth grade found that 85% of eighth graders reported drinking a sugared beverage at least once a week (about 30% said they drank them every day), regardless of whether their schools banned them or not.

The strict policies weren't a total wash, however: nearly 2% fewer students reported downing sweetened sodas or sports drinks between the fifth and eighth grades if their schools banned these drinks over that time, compared to schools with less restrictions.

Source: Time