School Soft Drink Availability and Consumption Among U.S. Secondary Students

The association between regular and diet soft drink availability in schools and student consumption is examined in this article.

If sugar sweetened beverages are less widely available at school, will students be less likely to drink them? Whether the availability of regular and diet soft drinks have an effect on consumption levels is examined in this study. 

Gathered from nationally representative samples of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students from the 2010–2011 Monitoring the Future studies, a total of 9,284 students from 329 schools throughout the U.S. were included. Students responded to questions regarding their consumption of regular or diet soft drinks (12 ounce cans or bottles) per day. School beverage availability was measured based on responses from administrators or principals regarding where students had access to soft drinks (e.g., vending machines), and when students had access to soft drinks (e.g., during lunch, after school).

Key Findings:

  • In multivariate models, there were no relationships between the availability of soft drinks and consumption levels among students. 
  • Among African-American high school students, the availability of regular and diet soft drinks was significantly related to higher daily consumption.

The findings reported are based on self-report which raised some possibility of reporting error. While changes in the availability of soft drinks may not affect overall consumption, efforts continuing to reduce soft drink availability in school environments can help instill healthy eating habits in the nation’s youth.