A recent study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has reportedly registered a significant decrease in the availability of soft drinks in secondary schools but “widespread access to other sugary beverages, such as fruit drinks and sport drinks.” Yvonne Terry-McElrath, et al., “Trends in Competitive Venue Beverage Availability: Findings From US Secondary School,” Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, August 2012. After surveying the availability of competitive beverages in 1,900 public middle and high schools from 2006-07 to 2010-11, researchers with the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research reported that the percentage of high school students with access to regular soda fell to 25 percent in 2010-11 from 54 percent in 2006-07, while the percentage of middle schoolers with access to regular soda declined to 13 percent in 2010-11, down from 27 percent in 2006-07.
At the same time, however, the survey purportedly revealed that 63 percent of middle and 88 percent of high school students still had access to some form of sugary beverage. In particular, the study’s authors attributed this trend to sports drinks, “which were available to 55 percent of middle and 83 percent of high school students in 2010-11.” They also noted that even though middle school students with access to sports drinks “declined significantly, from 72 percent to 55 percent, the same did not hold true for high school students,” of whom 83 percent could still purchase sports drinks in school in 2010-11.
“Our study shows that, although schools are making progress, far too many students still are surrounded by a variety of unhealthy beverages at school,” the study’s lead author was quoted as saying. “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.” See RWJF Press Release, August 6, 2012.