Effect of School District Policy Change on Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Among High School Students, Boston, Massachusetts, 2004-2006

This article examines the effect of a district-wide ban on sugar-sweetened beverages in high schools.

Sugar-sweetened beverages account for 13 percent of total daily caloric intake among youth. However, prior to this study, no major examination had yet been conducted on whether banning sweetened beverages in schools would change adolescents’ overall consumption of sweetened beverages.

The authors conducted surveys of public high school students in Boston, Mass., in 2004 and 2006, before and after a district-wide ban on in-school sales of sweetened beverages went into effect. In 2004, 1,079 students participated in the survey. In 2006, 1,233 students did so. The authors compared these results to data from the 2003-2004 and 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to determine the influence of the ban relative to national consumption by adolescents.

Key Findings:

  • Boston high school students reported a decrease in daily consumption of sweetened beverages (both in-school and out-of-school) from 1.71 servings in 2004 to 1.38 servings in 2006, a statistically significant drop. This drop equates to a reduction of 45 kcals per day and, if sustained over time, could have a positive health impact.
  • National results indicated no significant change in adolescent consumption of sweetened beverages.

These findings indicate that restricting the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages in schools may decrease adolescent consumption of sweetened beverages, potentially lowering their intake of unnecessary calories.