Study: Banning Sugary Drinks Doesn’t Halt Consumption

A new study suggests that schools that limited sales of soda and other sugary beverages on campus failed to constrict students' consumption. In fact, students consumed just as many of the drinks, overall, as students in schools without any restrictions, writes Karen Kaplan at the LA Times.

The study, published by the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, used data on 5,900 of students who have been tracked since they were kindergarteners in 1998. The researchers focused on data collected when the kids were in fifth grade and from when they were in eighth grade.

The researchers looked at a total of 40 states – 22 of which had no policy governing sales of sugary drinks in middle schools, while 11 forbid sales of soda only and seven banned all manner of sugar-sweetened beverages, including sports drinks and fruit drinks that were less than 100% pure.

And the study found that in all groups, approximately 85 percent of students claimed to have consumed these drinks at least once in the previous seven days. Alarmingly, around 30 percent of students reported daily consumption. So in terms of reducing in-school access and purchase, only policies that banned all sugar-sweetened beverages seemed to be effective, writes Hans Villarica at The Atlantic.

Bans on sugar-sweetened beverages within school doesn't appear to lessen consumption among adolescents at all. The study suggests that to control children's access to these drinks while in school, a comprehensive ban may be more effective than a soda-only restriction.

"Even comprehensive SSB (sugar-sweetened beverage) policies were not associated with overall consumption of SSBs, which was largely independent of students' in-school SSB access," concluded the study's four authors, all researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago who have been studying these issues for years.

"In the contemporary ‘obesogenic' environment, youth have countless ways to obtain SSBs through convenience stores, fast-food restaurants, and other food outlets in their community."

Among the other findings:

-Students in schools that banned soda but not other sugar-sweetened beverages had just as much access to sugary drinks on campus as students in schools without any policy.

-Students in schools that banned all sugar-sweetened beverages were less likely to encounter or purchase sugary drinks on campus.

-Students in all three categories were equally likely to purchase a soda, sports drink or fruit drink at some point during the day.

– Students who were subjected to some kind of sugar-sweetened beverage rule at school were actually more likely to consume sugary drinks on a daily basis.

-Students who didn't drink soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages on a regular basis were even less likely to do so if their school had any sort of regulation in place

11 15, 2011
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