Over the last decade or so, an exponentially growing number of schools said goodbye to soda pop machines in the hopes to prevent students from sipping on the calorie-laden and nutrition-free beverages. Some states have even mandated bans.
But has that stopped students from getting their hands on a cold can or other sugary alternatives? Nope. According to research by Dan Taber at the University of Illinois in Chicago, states with schools imposing a ban on soft drinks show little to no difference in student consumption of sugary drinks compared to states without the ban.
New Scientists reports that Taber sent out 6,900 questionnaires to students in 40 states between 2006 and 2007. Analysis showed that whether or not schools had soft drinks as an option, around 85 percent of student said they drank sweet drinks at least once a week -- 25 to 30 percent said they were daily drinkers.
If they can't get their soda fix during school hours, they find it elsewhere. Although Taber told New Scientist he thinks the bans on pop in school is still a good preventative measure, other tactics should be employed, such as distancing fast food restaurants from schools and perhaps a tax on sugary drinks.
What's next? The New York Times reports Taber as saying there are other drinks still available that contain a lot of sugar:
Dr. Taber said it made sense for some school districts to focus on soda at first, since it accounts for about two thirds of the calories teenagers get from sugary drinks. But that could also give some students the wrong idea about which drinks are best.
“Soda is definitely the most popular choice among kids,” he said. “But there’s a lot of misconceptions about which beverages are healthy. Many kids think beverages like Gatorade are a healthy alternative to soda.”
Taber's research is published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.