Vending machines in schools—which fall outside federal school lunch program regulation—give youth access to sugar-sweetened beverages. Research has linked consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages to obesity.
These investigators wanted to determine if high school student access to vending machine sugar-sweetened beverages varied among urban, town, or rural schools.
Between October 2007 and May 2008, trained coders counted vending machines and vending machine slots in 26 high schools in New Hampshire and Vermont. Coders described the location of the machines, hours of access, and whether there was machine-front advertising. Sugar-sweetened beverages included regular soda, sports drinks, fruit drinks, nondiet iced teas, lemonade, and other sweetened drinks.
“One possible explanation for the high prevalence of sugar-sweetened beverages in the school vending machines,” the authors suggest, “is the misperception that sports drinks are healthy beverages.”