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Globe Editorial

Junk food: Less soda, thinner kids

Vending machines in Boston’s schools are already limited to healthier snacks. Vending machines in Boston’s schools are already limited to healthier snacks. (Essdras M Suarez/ Globe Staff)
August 23, 2011

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When the ban on sugary drinks in Boston public school took effect in 2004, critics warned that it was a useless exercise in nanny-statism, and that students would just get their soda fix elsewhere. They were wrong. A new study shows the policy is working, and bolsters the case for redoubling efforts to keep junk food out of schools.

According to the study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Boston teens consumed about 45 fewer calories a day in the years after the ban when into effect - even taking into account soda consumed outside school. That may not seem like much, but over a year 45 calories a day adds up to a vast improvement.

By comparison, during the same period that soda consumption among teens fell in Boston, it stayed at the same level nationwide. A ban similar to Boston’s is scheduled to go into effect statewide with the 2012-13 school year. That policy will also ban foods with artificial sweeteners, trans fats, and caffeine. School districts should take the initiative, though. With strong evidence from Boston that taking soda out of school benefits student health, why wait until next year to get rid of it?