A third of kids in U.S. public elementary schools can buy such beverages as sports drinks and full-fat milk at school, according to a study looking at wellness policies in schools. And that’s an improvement, the researchers said.
“Elementary schools across the country are improving the beverage landscape, showing that change is possible and it’s already happening,” the lead author, Lindsey Turner, said in a statement. The work is part of an effort funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; it was published this month in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
The beverages are not part of the school lunch program; they are what’s known as “competitive foods and beverages” – items sold a la carte or in vending machines or student stores. Their name comes from the idea that they compete with the regular cafeteria food for students’ dollars.
The researchers grouped drinks into categories based on guidelines from the Institute of Medicine. IOM-approved beverages included water, nonfat or 1% milk, and 100% juice. Non-Institute of Medicine-approved drinks included sugar-sweetened drinks such as sodas and sports drinks, higher-fat milk and diet sodas.