Kids Consume Sugary Drinks Despite School Bans
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago have released a survey that has concluded that bans on sugar-sweetened drinks in middle schools had very little impact on overall consumption of sugary drinks by children, reports Crystal Phend of MedPage Today.
The study, published online Monday in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, utilized data from 5,900 students who have been tracked since they began school in 1998.
Of the 40 states considered in the research, 22 had no policy governing sales of sugary drinks in middle schools, 11 forbid sales of soda only, and 7 banned all manner of sugar-sweetened beverages, including sports drinks and fruit drinks with the exception of 100 percent fruit juices.
In all three categories, the prevalence of obesity was essentially the same, ranging from 22.3 percent to 22.6 percent. Additionally, 83 to 87 percent of students from all categories drank sugar-sweetened beverages at least once a week and 26 to 33 percent of them drank sugar-sweetened beverages at least once a day, Karen Kaplan of Los Angeles Times reports.
Lead researcher Daniel R. Taber, PhD, MPH, of the University of Illinois at Chicago says, “Any impact of state school-based sugar-sweetened beverages policies on youth dietary consumption may be modest without changes in other policy sectors.”
These and similar results from other studies add to the growing body of evidence that school-based policy interventions must be comprehensive if they are to be effective, the researchers concluded.
It is not expected that replacing soda with sports drinks or other sugary drinks would have much impact on obesity. Drinks containing even 100 percent fruit juice have as many calories as other sugar-sweetened beverages, researchers noted.
The study did find that students who drank no soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) regularly were even less likely to do so if their school had any sort of regulation in place.
“Even comprehensive SSB policies were not associated with overall consumption of SSBs, which was largely independent of students’ in-school SSB access,” concluded the study’s four authors, all researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago who have been studying these issues for years. “The public health impact of these policies may be minimal.”
After all, they wrote, “in the contemporary ‘obesogenic’ environment, youth have countless ways to obtain SSBs through convenience stores, fast-food restaurants, and other food outlets in their community.”
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