Study: Boston Public Schools’ Sugary Drink Ban Is Working

BOSTON (AP) — A new study indicates that the Boston public schools’ ban on sugary drinks has paid off, with high school students drinking less of such beverages even when they’re not at school.

In 2004, Boston public schools banned the on-campus sale of sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda, sports drinks and fruit drinks.

The study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation tracked 9th through 12th graders for two years after the ban began. It found sugar-sweetened beverage consumption, inside and outside school, fell from 1.71 average servings per day in 2004 to 1.38 servings in 2006, according to results released Tuesday. That’s roughly 45 fewer calories daily.

Meanwhile, there was no comparable decrease in teens’ sugary drink consumption nationwide, according to the study. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed teens nationwide drank 1.74 servings of sugary drinks daily in 2003-04, and 1.66 servings in 2005-06 — a decline that researchers called statistically insignificant.

“This study shows that a very simple policy change can have a big impact on student behavior,” said Angie Cradock, a senior research scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health and the study’s lead author. “It also shows that when students couldn’t get these unhealthy beverages in school, they didn’t necessarily buy them elsewhere.”

Researchers surveyed more than 1,000 students at 17 Boston high schools for the study, which defined a serving as one can or glass, with a 20-ounce bottle counting as two servings.

Mayor Thomas Menino has since expanded the ban outside Boston schools to all city property with an executive order issued in April. Under the order, the expanded ban is scheduled to take effect in October.

And just last month, the Massachusetts Public Health Council passed new nutrition standards that take sugary sodas out of schools statewide, and also kick an array of other foods off school property, including those with artificial sweeteners, trans fats and caffeine. The statewide changes go into effect between the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 school years.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • web

    But what was the initial goal of th ban? I could be wrong, but I think it was to fight obesity. I don’t think obesity has gone down since 2004, if anything it has gone up. So, the study concludes less soda is being consumed…so what? I don’t drink soda anyway, but what is the point and the real benefit of the ban?

    • Matt

      The real benefit of the ban is now they have more control of our lives. It started several years ago when raising the taxes in cigarettes did not work so the got them banned at places of work in order to protect the workers. Then it became seat belt laws, then it was cell phone use in the car, then it was trans fats in our food, then it was salty foods and now this. Remember folks we only just recently got our ability to by alcohol on sundays back and get tatoos in this state. It is great being an adult in this state/country having to ask and be told what I can and can’t do. I like as an adult not being able to make decisions for myself and my family because all of the correct ones are already made for me.

  • SickofGovt

    Just another way for the government to take away your liberties. If anything Mumbles should put down the fork and step away from the table
    Thank Wu

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  • dms

    Wow, a whopping 45 calories less a day. That’s about a small bite out of a candy bar or the mayo on a burger. They must be so proud of what they have achieved. I wonder how much it set the city back to force this incredibly successful program onto the people of Boston.

    Spend your time controlling what people can eat and drink is so much easier than attacking real world problems like illegal immigration. Go Mumbles.

    • NB

      One pound of fat = 3500 calories. So 45 extra calories per day = 1 pound of fat every 77 days, or about 4-5 pounds per year. That’s a difference of almost 20 pounds during high school. Little things matter.

      This isn’t the government controlling what people can eat and drink. Kids can still drink soda, even in school if they want. They just can’t buy it from the school. Why should our schools, which are supposed to be about improving the lives of our kids, be in the business of selling them a harmful product?

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