Sugary Drinks In School

Sugary Drinks in School: A Success Story

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Do you drink sugary drinks? Some argue that sugary drinks play a significant role in today’s obesity epidemic in the US. Why? Because when you drink sugar, you are consuming calories. And, your body doesn’t feel as full when you drink these calories compared to when you eat the same number of calories as food. 1

That’s why I am excited about a new study that came out of the Harvard School of Public Health Prevention Research Center last week (and, I’m a co-author!). Researchers took a look at standards passed by the Boston Public schools more than ten years ago that stopped the sale of sugary drinks in vending machines, on a-la-carte lines in the school cafeteria, and in school stores. And about five years ago, the Boston Public Schools expanded the policy. When the policy was expanded, Boston Public School district staff also provided trainings and tools to help schools carry out this policy.

So, what did the study find? After more than ten years, the standards are still in effect. And, researchers found that the majority of schools are following the policy. As a result, about 85% of the students in the school district – more than 47,000 students – did not have access to sugary beverages at school.

What does this mean? The more access that children have to sugary beverages at school, the more likely they are to drink sugary beverages. 2 And, this matters for a number of reasons. Healthy drinks like water have amazing benefits – from regulating your body temperature, to providing cushion for your joints, to getting rid of toxins. In fact, a study done on sixth grade students showed that dehydration impacts performance on cognitive tests. 3

More and more schools are paying attention to sugary drinks. And, the US Department of Agriculture now has specific beverage options for schools who participate in the National School Lunch program.

What do you think? Is it possible to offer healthier drinks (not sugary drinks) as the only choice at school?

Let us know by commenting below!

Featured study: Mozaffarian RS, Gortmaker SL, Kenney EL, Carter JE, Howe MCW, Reiner JF, et al. Assessment of a Districtwide Policy on Availability of Competitive Beverages in Boston Public Schools, Massachusetts, 2013. Prev Chronic Dis 2016;13:150483. DOI:

Sugary Drinks In School

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  1. Pan A, Hu FB. Effects of carbohydrates on satiety: differences between liquid and solid food. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2011;14:385-90.
  2. Johnson DB, Bruemmer B, Lund AE, Evens CC, Mar CM. Impact of school district sugar-sweetened beverage policies on student beverage exposure and consumption in middle schools. J Adolesc Health 2009;45(3, Suppl):S30–7
  3. Bar-David Y, Urkin J, Kozminsky E. The effect of voluntary dehydration on cognitive functions of ele- mentary school children. Acta Paediatr. 2005;94 (11):1667-1673.
  • Anne

    Thanks Caitlin for sharing the importance of drinking water. Prohibiting sugary drinks in schools is a hard won policy but glad to hear that after ten years the policy remains.
    Congratulations on being a co-author of this study!

    • Thanks for your comment! Yep – very much agree that drinking water is one of the healthiest things you can do!