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Prev Chronic Dis. 2011 Jul;8(4):A74. Epub 2011 Jun 15.

Effect of school district policy change on consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among high school students, Boston, Massachusetts, 2004-2006.

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Department of Society, Human Development and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115, USA.



Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has increased among youth in recent decades, accounting for approximately 13% of total calories consumed. The Boston Public Schools passed a policy restricting sale of sugar-sweetened beverages in Boston schools in June 2004. The objective of this study was to determine whether high school students' consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages declined after this new policy was implemented.


We conducted a quasi-experimental evaluation by using data on consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages by public high school students who participated in the Boston Youth Survey during February through April 2004 and February through April 2006 (N = 2,033). We compared the observed change with national trends by using data from the 2003-2004 and 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Regression methods were adjusted for student demographics.


On average, Boston's public high school students reported daily consumption of 1.71 servings of sugar-sweetened beverages in 2004 and 1.38 servings in 2006. Regression analyses showed significant declines in consumption of soda (-0.16 servings), other sugar-sweetened beverages (-0.14 servings), and total sugar-sweetened beverages (-0.30 servings) between 2004 and 2006 (P < .001 for all). NHANES indicated no significant nationwide change in adolescents' consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages between 2003-2004 and 2005-2006.


Data from Boston youth indicated significant reductions in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, which coincided with a policy change restricting sale of sugar-sweetened beverages in schools. Nationally, no evidence was found for change in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among same-aged youth, indicating that implementing policies that restrict the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages in schools may be a promising strategy to reduce adolescents' intake of unnecessary calories.

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