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22-11-2011 | General practice | Article

Bans on soda should include all sugar-sweetened drinks


Free abstract

MedWire News: A comprehensive school-wide ban on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) does not reduce overall consumption of sugary drinks among middle-school-aged children, US research shows.

State policies banning all SSBs did reduce in-school access and purchasing of the drinks, however.

"School is only one aspect of a child's environment, though, and youth have proven to be very adept at compensating for individual changes to their environment," write Daniel Taber (University of Illinois, Chicago, USA) and colleagues in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.

In 2007, the Institute of Medicine recommended that all SSBs be banned in schools.

Policies differ from state to state and many policymakers have focused solely on banning soda from schools, allowing other high-calorie sports and fruit drinks to be sold. Soda remains the main SSB consumed by adolescents, accounting for more calories than any food or beverage group in recent years, the researchers explain.

In the present study, they determined whether state policies regulating beverages in schools were associated with a reduction in in-school access and purchase of SSBs. In addition, they analyzed the effect of the policy on consumption of the drinks in and out of school.

The reported in-school access to SSBs among grade eight students was 66.6% in states that banned soda only. Of the children surveyed, 28.9% reported buying the drinks in school at least once in the past week.

The proportion of students accessing and buying SSBs in schools that banned soda only was nearly identical to the proportions reported in schools that had no beverage policy (66.6 and 26.0%, respectively).

These data confirm that for a ban on soda to be effective, it must be comprehensive and include bans on all beverages with added caloric sweeteners, state Taber and colleagues.

In schools that banned all SSBs, and not just soda, significantly fewer students reported having access to the drinks and fewer reported buying them at least once in the past seven days.

Furthermore, the researchers report that the overall consumption of SSBs was not associated with state policy.

Indeed, in each policy category, approximately 85% of students reported consuming SSBs at least once in the past seven days.

"Any impact of state school-based SSB policies on youth dietary consumption may be modest without changes in other policy sectors," report Taber and colleagues.

By MedWire Reporters

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