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The Association between State Bans on Soda Only and Adolescent Substitution with Other Sugar-Sweetened Beverages: A cross-sectional study

Taber DR, Chriqui JF, Vuillaume R, Kelder SH and Chaloupka FJ. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 2015. [E-pub ahead of print]

Across the United States, many states have actively banned the sale of soda in high schools, and evidence suggests that students’ in-school access to soda has declined as a result. However, schools may be substituting soda with other sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), and national trends indicate that adolescents are consuming more sports drinks and energy drinks. This study examined whether students consumed more non-soda SSBs in states that banned the sale of soda in school.

Student data on consumption of various SSBs and in-school access to vending machines that sold SSBs were obtained from the National Youth Physical Activity and Nutrition Study (NYPANS), conducted in 2010. Student data were linked to state laws regarding the sale of soda in school in 2010. Students were cross-classified based on their access to vending machines and whether their state banned soda in school, creating 4 comparison groups. Zero-inflated negative binomial models were used to compare these 4 groups with respect to students’ self-reported consumption of diet soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, coffee/tea, or other SSBs. Students who had access to vending machines in a state that did not ban soda were the reference group. Models were adjusted for race/ethnicity, sex, grade, home food access, state median income, and U.S. Census region.

Students consumed more servings of sports drinks, energy drinks, coffee/tea, and other SSBs if they resided in a state that banned soda in school but attended a school with vending machines that sold other SSBs. Similar results were observed where schools did not have vending machines but the state allowed soda to be sold in school. Intake was generally not elevated where both states and schools limited SSB availability – i.e., states banned soda and schools did not have SSB vending machines.

State laws that ban soda but allow other SSBs may lead students to substitute other non-soda SSBs. Additional longitudinal research is needed to confirm this. Elevated SSB intake was not observed when both states and schools took steps to remove SSBs from school.

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