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Obes Facts. 2010;3(2):109-15. doi: 10.1159/000300848. Epub 2010 Apr 16.

Feasibility and impact of placing water coolers on sales of sugar-sweetened beverages in Dutch secondary school canteens.

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Research Centre for the Prevention of Overweight Zwolle, Windesheim University of Applied Sciences, Zwolle, The Netherlands.



The aim of this pilot study was to investigate the feasibility and effectiveness of placing water coolers on sugar-sweetened beverage sales at secondary schools (age 12-18 years) in the city of Zwolle, the Netherlands.


Six schools, hosting 5,866 pupils, were divided in three intervention and three control schools. In the intervention schools, water coolers were placed in the canteen. Hidden observations were performed in one school to study the intervention's feasibility, and school personnel was interviewed. Beverage sales were monitored before and during the intervention. After the intervention period, 366 class 1 and 2 pupils completed a questionnaire about their drinking habits (response rate 81%).


Placement of water coolers appeared to be a feasible intervention at secondary schools. However, it did not affect sales of sugar-sweetened beverages at schools. Although mean intake of sugar-sweetened beverages at school was high, more than 500 ml/day for boys, and more than 250 ml/day for girls, only a minority of these quantities was purchased at school.


We conclude that placing water coolers as a single-issue intervention in secondary school canteens should not be prioritized in the combat against obesity.

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