Sugary sports drinks plentiful at U.S. schools: study

August 6, 2012
Sugary sports drinks plentiful at U.S. schools: study
Fewer stock soda, but fruit beverages, Gatorade-like drinks are widely available.

(HealthDay) -- Although fewer middle and high schools in the United States make sugary sodas available to students today, other sweet beverages, particularly sports drinks, are still widely available, according to a new study.

High-calorie drinks are the main source of among children, and offering these drinks at school can significantly increase students' , the study from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation said.

"Our study shows that, although schools are making progress, far too many students still are surrounded by a variety of unhealthy beverages at school," lead author, Yvonne Terry-McElrath, a researcher from the University of Michigan and co-investigator with Bridging the Gap, a research program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said in a foundation news release. "We also know that the problem gets worse as students get older."

The researchers surveyed more than 1,400 middle schools and more than 1,500 high schools to track beverages sold by these schools outside of meal programs over four academic years beginning in 2006. Specifically, they looked at places where students could buy high-calorie , such as vending machines, a la carte lines in the cafeteria, school stores and .

The study, published Aug. 6 in the , found one in four public could buy high-calorie soda during the 2010 school year. Four years earlier, sugary sodas were available to more than 50 percent of these students, the researchers said.

Meanwhile, the percentage of students in middle school who could buy regular soda dropped from 27 percent in the 2006-2007 school year to 13 percent four years later.

However, the investigators found many middle and high school students still have access to other sugary beverages, such as and . In the 2010 school year, 63 percent of middle school students and 88 percent of high school students could buy some type of high-calorie drink at school.

Sports drinks were among the biggest culprits, the researchers said. Although their availability declined from 2006, they were still available to 55 percent of middle school students. Meanwhile, 83 percent of high school students could buy these drinks at school in 2010. In addition to added sugar, the researchers said sports drinks contain an unhealthy amount of salt and are recommended only for serious athletes who engage in rigorous physical activity.

The study also showed that while students' access to higher-fat milk declined, in 2010 it remained available to 36 percent of and 48 percent of high school students.

C. Tracy Orleans, senior scientist at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said the progress being made to remove sugary sodas from schools is encouraging. "But while this study does have good news, it also shows that we're not yet where we want to be," Orleans said in the news release. "It's critically important for the USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture] to set strong standards for competitive foods and beverages to help ensure that all students across all grades have healthy choices at school."

Explore further: U.S. schools throwing the book at unhealthy drinks

More information:
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about sugar and other sweeteners.


Related Stories

U.S. schools throwing the book at unhealthy drinks

July 5, 2012
(HealthDay) -- More U.S. elementary schools are banning unhealthy beverages from the premises, according to a new report.

Banning sugar-sweetened beverages in schools does not reduce consumption: study

November 7, 2011
State policies banning all sugar-sweetened beverages in schools are associated with reduced in-school access and purchase of these beverages, however these policies are not associated with a reduction in overall consumption ...

Poll shows strong voter support for school nutrition standards

April 19, 2012
Eighty percent of American voters favor national standards that would limit calories, fat, and sodium in snack and à la carte foods sold in U.S. schools and encourage the consumption of fruits, vegetables and low-fat ...

Recommended for you

At the cellular level, a child's loss of a father is associated with increased stress

July 18, 2017
The absence of a father—due to incarceration, death, separation or divorce—has adverse physical and behavioral consequences for a growing child. But little is known about the biological processes that underlie this link ...

New comparison chart sheds light on babies' tears

July 10, 2017
A chart that enables parents and clinicians to calculate if a baby is crying more than it should in the first three months of its life has been created by a Kingston University London researcher, following a study of colic ...

Blood of SIDS infants contains high levels of serotonin

July 3, 2017
Blood samples from infants who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) had high levels of serotonin, a chemical that carries signals along and between nerves, according to a study funded in part by the National Institutes ...

Is your child's 'penicillin allergy' real?

July 3, 2017
(HealthDay)—Many children suspected of being allergic to the inexpensive, first-line antibiotic penicillin actually aren't, new research indicates.

Probiotic supplements failed to prevent babies' infections

July 3, 2017
(HealthDay)—Probiotic supplements may not protect babies from catching colds or stomach bugs in day care, a new clinical trial suggests.

Starting school young can put child wellbeing at risk

June 22, 2017
New research has shown that the youngest pupils in each school year group could be at risk of worse mental health than their older classmates.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.