Elementary Student Access to High-Calorie Drinks Declining

Encouraging trends show reduced student access to sugar-sweetened drinks and high-fat milk

FRIDAY, July 6 (HealthDay News) -- Trends suggest that public elementary school student access to sugar-sweetened beverages and non-Institute of Medicine (IOM)-approved competitive beverages have declined significantly from 2006-2007 to 2010-2011, according to a research letter published in the July issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Lindsey Turner, Ph.D., and Frank J. Chaloupka, Ph.D., of the Institute for Health Research and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, conducted surveys of nationally representative samples of public elementary schools in the United States to evaluate the competitive availability of high-calorie beverages from 2006-2007 to 2010-2011.

The researchers found that student access to beverages in competitive venues reached a peak of 61.3 percent in 2008 to 2009, and declined subsequently. There was a linear increase in the percentage of students who could only purchase IOM-approved competitive beverages and a steady decline in access to vending machines. Access to stores/snack bars and á la carte lines had a curvilinear trend, which peaked during 2008 to 2009, and subsequently decreased. Availability of high-fat milks in those venues peaked in 2007 to 2008 and appeared responsible for the curvilinear trend in availability of non-IOM approved beverages.

"Although there is still progress to be made, the trends are encouraging and show not only that change in the school beverage environment is possible, but that it is already under way," the authors write.

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