Banning Soda Machines In Schools Only Decreases Consumption 4%

A new study says banning soda machines in schools only decreased kiddie soda pop consumption by 4%. Guess the soda kids were drinking in school wasn’t necessarily being bought at school.

[US News & World Report] (Thanks to Alex!) (Photo: robinryan)


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  1. Erwos says:

    “What’s that old saw about what happens what happens when you tell kids not to do things?”

    It sure isn’t “they do them less”. And according to this story, _they did them less_. So I don’t know what your point is.

    • azntg says:

      @Erwos: The school-wide ban policy isn’t effective enough. That’s the point (at least, in my opinion).

      More like, we’d expect soda consumption to go down 20% (I suppose you could “achieve” that by fudging statistics and whatnot), but a measly 4%? Peh.

      Algal924 has probably written one of the better short analysis of this picture

      Personally, I think the choice of allowing soda in schools SHOULD be made available. Perhaps discouraged somewhat (e.g.: smaller sized portions sold in schools, official stances on it, etc.), but, soda is still preferable to, among other things:
      – dirty fountain water (not only does it taste nasty, at my old high school, it was a miracle the few people who drank from it didn’t get terribly sick according to several tests taken at different fountains)
      – certain brands of bottled water (people say water is “tasteless.” Not exactly, I am a believer that different kinds of water has their own unique taste and some aren’t bad at all. The ones sold in school aren’t too much different from the dirty fountain water.)
      – “flavored” drinks they sell as an alternative to soda (e.g.: Snapple juiced, etc.)

  2. Jonbo298 says:

    Let them do it. Rot their teeth slowly but surely. Parents pay the dentist bills. Kids become adults and then regret drinking all that pop while Dentists rake in the money.

    • lalaland13 says:

      My school had a strict no-soda-until-marriage rule. And it wouldn’t give toothpaste to those who did drink it.

      @Jonbo298: Sadly, that might be right. I don’t know if soda contributed as much as just having bad teeth (thanks, Mom and Dad), but after a bad trip to the dentist in April, I doubt I’ve all but sworn it off. I haven’t had enough soda to equal a six-pack since then.

    • katylostherart says:

      this isn’t that surprising. parents are still ultimately responsible for what their kids eat for the large majority even if they’re sneaking stuff on the side. my parents didn’t buy soda to keep in the house unless there was a party coming up. the result of that was me and my brother didn’t really drink soda except on special occasions.

      @Jonbo298: i know someone who drank three liters of coke a day for about a year of his life. he didn’t get fat but he did get 14 fillings. i cringe to think what that would’ve cost him in america.

  3. "I Like Potatoes" says:

    “We need to take a more comprehensive look at environments around schools, what (students) are doing at home and after school,”

    Well…duh! For some students, the school lunch is the most nutritious meal they get all day. That one soda they might drink at school is just a small part of the whole picture. The pop tarts for breakfast and the chicken nuggets for dinner play a bigger part in childhood obesity than that little can of pop. The schools can teach kids about nutrition and healthy food choices all day long, but if the parents aren’t offering those foods it’s just a waste of time.

  4. Was the decrease overall, i.e. including at home, or just consumption in school. Seeing as I’m not a parent, are there really any alternatives to soda that appeal to kids that come in convenient large packaging, like a can of soda or a liter of pop? It seems that it’s easier for Mom or Dad to throw a can into the lunch bag than a soft Brix box.

  5. marsneedsrabbits says:

    But where will the little rapscallions get their daily allowance of fizzy goodness?

    Schools should not be in the business of allowing (and profiting from) companies marketing from the children, who are a captive audience. Putting cola machines in the lunch room is just wrong.

    At the same time, since kids (for the most part) cannot leave the school grounds, I don’t see how banning one food is right. If their parents allow them to bring it, how it is the school’s job to police what sort of food comes from home?

    What’s next? Requirements to submit sandwich fillings for review? Twinkie patrol?

    Why is it the school’s job to second-guess and override the wishes of parents?

    • @marsneedsrabbits: You have obviously not encountered a peanut/any nut free school. Yes, they regulate what you can pack in your kids lunch.

      • marsneedsrabbits says:

        @Git Em SteveDave loves this guy–>:

        I didn’t say they don’t – I’m saying that perhaps they shouldn’t.

        This is different from peanut allergies. It isn’t done for immediate health reasons. It’s being done out of a vague sense that too much sugar is bad for us. Which it is. But a little isn’t. How do they know how much an individual child has?

        If they feel confident banning soda, why not Twinkies?

        Tuna has mercury. Will they monitor lunches so that kids don’t eat it more than twice a week?

        If it makes complete sense to tell children they can’t have a soda, why is it ok for Timmy to have Twinkies or candy or tuna or anything else?

        Why can’t it be up to the parents? They are the parents, after all.

        • papahoth says:

          @marsneedsrabbits: They never sold any sodas or twinkies in any school i went too. Maybe you should ask why did they start? To make money since “the tax cuts are working.”

          @PDX909: Why are you concerned about the caffeine? Afraid they may actually stay up and study or stay awake in class?

  6. strife1012 says:

    I wonder if this is a precursor to the lack of affect of “0 Tolerance” to drugs, I know it doesn’t affect Weed sales. Making policies is totally different from Enforcing Policies.

  7. Gopher bond says:

    News Alert: kids like soda.

    News Alert: kids are poor at considering long-term ramifications.

    But don’t look at me, I’m weird, I like Kool-Aid without sugar, and not the artificial sweetener kind, just the flavor packets in water. Very bitter but I find it addicting.

  8. ShadowFalls says:

    Not to mention that in most soda, they add caramel color, which serves no purpose but to remove that whitening look on your teeth…

    • battra92 says:

      Grrr, I hate double postings but I always find a new post once I click submit.

      @ShadowFalls: I think I remember reading once that the caramel coloring and the teeth rottening effects of soda can me minimized if we just drank through a straw.

      I mean, Orange juice will rot your teeth the same as soda. Ever put a chicken bone in orange juice? Cool stuff!

  9. Maybe we can use the above picture to tell kids that drinking too much soda will turn you into a scary giger!

  10. says:

    the state shouldn’t play the part of the “parent.” by state, i also mean state regulated institutions. institutions aren’t parents, and i don’t know why they think they are.

    i had a HUGE gripe about this at my school. they didn’t turn the soda machine on until after school, but the only diet-drink choice allowed was water. occasionally, they had bottled unsweetened ice tea, but that was once a week just about. so, they allowed Gatorade (which is all sugar and salt), served pizzas, a variety of ice cream sandwiches and ice cream pops, fried chicken nuggets, all sorts of pre-packaged pasteries (even the pre-packaged muffins were 400+ calories)…but God forbid soda!

    my school (and i’m sure others) spent so much money on the sports teams’ uniforms, while our nutrition program was embarrassing.

  11. johnnya2 says:

    Why should a school serve soft drinks in the first place? Even if it does not cut consumption, the school system should not be beholden to Coke and Pepsi for funding their duties. If the kids parents want them to have pop, the so be it. At the University level there are people old enough to legally drink alcohol, BUT the legislature in the state of Michigan has determined alcohol is not to be consumed at University events. I do not see that as a bad thing. Its not designed to stop consumption, just to have consumption at the appropriate place.

    • katylostherart says:

      @johnnya2: sometimes the contracts end up giving money to the school that they otherwise wouldn’t get. kids may be feeding quarters to the coke machine, but in some places a bit of those profits go back to the school district. granted it’d be nice if those quarters went straight to the school but that’s not really how taxes and funding work.

      @Quill2006: i was a big fan of water fountains when i was in school.

      • johnnya2 says:

        @katylostherart: I realize that, and think its absolutely crazy that a school district needs to get money from Coke, Pepsi and Adidas to run their programs. Lets fund what we are supposed to fund as taxpayers.

  12. Ein2015 says:

    Ugh almost anything relating to public education these days makes me want to go either emo or homicidal, depending on the day.

    School lunches are certainly not healthy. If you’ve gone to school you know this. Until there’s some guy in the back on the BBQ cooking up real meats, somebody slicing up fresh fruits, somebody making fresh-squeezed juice, etc… then the lunches are NOT healthy.

    Guess what, they serve LOTS of fried foods at lunch. LOTS of preservatives. LOTS of saturated fat and LOTS of HFCS.

    Heck, look at the providers of school lunches. They’re bottom-dollar!

    If you want to stop childhood obesity, give them amazingly delicious HEALTHY food… you know, like a home cooked meal instead of something that came frozen out of a bag from a processing plant. Also, fix the gym classes to teach good basic healthy exercising and living. Moderate work-outs for 3 days a week (some running around and some weights) plus either games or health education the other 2 days a week would go a LONG WAY!

    Message to parents: please, take your head out of your rear and THINK about these things.

  13. mbz32190 says:

    I went to a High School that banned soda…the problem is, instead of soda, they filled the machines with Gatorade and “fruit punch” type drinks which were no healthier, if not worse, than soda. (I would always bring cans of Mountian Dew, bottles of water, etc. from home anyway though so I wouldn’t have to pay 1.50 for a bottle of Aquafina)

    • camille_javal says:

      @mbz32190: Why would Gatorade be worse than soda? A 20 oz. bottle of Coca-Cola has 250 calories; a 20 oz. bottle of Gatorade has 125.

      I went to a middle school that sold Little Debbies and Slim Jims in addition to the school lunches. Unsurprisingly, I ate a lot of Little Debbies and Slim Jims for lunch, because the school lunches tasted like concentrated bleh. I also always took a Coke to school with me.

      I am very much for banning the *sale* of soda at school – that’s not being “food police” – that’s avoiding bombarding the kids with ads for this shit for at least a small part of the day. Same with things like Twinkies and Little Debbies. As the study shows, it doesn’t necessarily make a huge difference if they’re getting it elsewhere, but it’s also about schools beholden to these corporations, and about students having a little bit of space with less advertising directed at them. It’s about making even a half-assed attempt.

  14. shepd says:

    Solution to schools banning soda: If your area is zoned C/R (so many areas near schools are!) and you live on a corner plot to the school, rent some of your corner plot to a soda machine company.

    It’s been done before. I wonder how the school’s insurance company likes the idea…

  15. Quill2006 says:

    The high school district I work at (and possibly the entire state) have banned regular soda from school pop machines. Instead, the machines now have all diet soda.

    I’m not a scientist, but all the weird chemicals in diet soda aren’t exactly great for you either, right?

    Maybe I’m just pissy because I hate the taste of diet soda and so I now have to bring my own pop.

    One thing I don’t understand is that the district actually has a lot of healthy drinks available in the cafeteria when it’s open, but they only stock the unhealthy ones in the vending machines, which is where kids purchase after school and when the caf is closed. Kids eat and drink a ton of crap after school when they stay for activities, and yet it’s ok to not give them any options other than candy, chips, and soda. Strangely, the bottled water always runs out the fastest.

  16. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    I would much rather see a national ban on the addition of caffeine to anything.
    Products that have caffeine naturally wouldn’t be affected, coffee, tea [theobromine] & chocolate.

    I’ve has a suspicion that caffeine is part of the cause of all the hyperactive kids lately.

  17. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I don’t really get how difficult it is to buy some bread, a head of lettuce, a few tomatoes and some deli meat. Deli meat is what costs the most, and even if it’s really generic balogna, you’re still getting more nutrition than the fried, greasy lunches a lot of schools offer. Time isn’t really an excuse, IMO – a sandwich takes about 15 minutes. Sandwich, juice, carrot sticks or something for a snack. You can’t control what kids will swap during lunch, but you can at least send them off with something decent to eat.

  18. Charlotte Rae's Web says:

    no one is going to stop HS kids from bringing their big gulp to school, that’s all this it.

  19. digitalgimpus says:

    Buy outside and bring in… that’s what I did.

    Think about how overpriced vending machines are. The school is doing kids a favor… teaching them to be good consumers and save money.

  20. razremytuxbuddy says:

    I call 4% a start. At least it requires the kids to consider other choices offered. And, yes, there needs to be other choices that are more than just other empty calories. Vending machine food really needs to include healthy choices. You can’t really blame the kids if they only have junk to choose from.

    The obesity problem is really huge, and it breaks my heart to see it start so young. A grownup who’s been obese his/her entire life doesn’t even know what it feels like to not be obese. How could someone like that ever gain the will power and discipline to lose the weight? We are all paying the price for that; and I think there’s a train wreck ahead.

  21. junip says:

    If the schools took the machines out, they’ve done their part. The rest is up to the parents to stop packing soda in their kids’ lunches. (Unless the school is selling soda in the lunch line, which I don’t ever recall being the case when I was in school, but it’s been a while.)

  22. EVEs_Mako says:

    Who sponsored this new study? Coke? Pepsi? Coke and Pepsi?

  23. PinkBox says:

    Parents have a lot to do with this, obviously. If both the parents stopped giving their kids so much soda AND they weren’t available at the schools, it would be a nice change.

    But then you have the parents who say “OH! But soandso loooves their coke/sundrop/pepsi!” and gosh knows soandso must have it.

  24. PDX909 says:

    I’m not so concerned about the sugar so much as all the caffeine that these kids ingest. I’m all for banning those drinks at school.

  25. maztec says:

    It is as simple as we are putting sugar in nearly everything. We do not need this much sugar in our food. Most of the time it does not even make things taste better!

  26. Siegeman says:

    I remember when they banned soda in CT schools… a friend of mine started selling it out of his backpack for a buck a can. Made a nice profit.

    The only thing the legislation really did was eliminate any additional revenue the school got from vending machines. I suppose that’s just what happens when the power of the free market collides with idiotic morality laws…

  27. Possinator says:

    Looks like kids aren’t obese because they’re shotgunning 15 sodas at lunch after all.

  28. mrearly2 says:

    Yep. Sugar addicts need their fix.
    I wonder who thought it was a good idea to have junk food and poison drinks in schools? WTF? Are they frickin’ insane?
    We had water fountains in school, in my day. And we liked that way!
    When the sugar addicts get older and experience symptoms of poor eating habits (cancer, etc.), they can be a burden to everyone.

  29. blackmage439 says:

    For pretty much my entire high school run, I drank a non-diet soda for lunch, and sometimes one for dinner. And what did I do when I came home? I was a couch potato. I don’t believe I gained a single abnormal pound until after graduation, when I *gasp!* stopped having gym class 5 days a week. Working at a Subway during Junior & Senior year probably helped, too.

    My lunch consisted of as much balance as it could, as far as food groups go. That I believe is the key. These fat ass kids are probably eating McDonalds, pizza, and other trans fat-containing crap.

    I am in no way surprised by this study. I agree with the assertion that these kids are just bringing this crap from home instead of buying it. Keeping the sweets away only makes kids want them more; TEACHING proper nutrition doesn’t.

  30. bwilliams18 says:

    i am again so glad i go to private school i can have as much soda as i can pay for