Encouraging Trends in Student Access to Competitive Beverages in U.S. Public Elementary Schools, 2006-07 to 2010-11

After recording two additional years of data on previously reported findings regarding the availability of beverages sold in vending machines, stores, or à la carte lines, positive changes in the school beverage environment are emerging.

Five school years in total from 2006–2007 through 2010–2011 were evaluated in multivariate logistic regression models. Mail-back surveys were completed during the spring of each school year by the principal and food service staff in a nationally representative sample of U.S. public elementary schools.

Results from previously reported competitive beverage availability shows that during the 2008–2009 school year, student access to any competitive beverage peaked at 61.3 percent. However, encouraging trends are emerging, as the percent continues to decline.

Key Findings:

  • The availability of beverages sold from vending machines and student access to sugar-sweetened beverages has steadily decreased since the 2006–2007 school year.

The Institute of Medicine recommends that any competitive beverages sold in elementary schools (via vending machines or snack bars) be limited to only water, 100 percent juice, and nonfat or 1 percent milk. This, in addition to increases in district policies can ensure the health of the nation’s youth stays on track with healthy beverage options.