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.