BACKGROUND: This study explores sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) availability in US secondary school competitive venues during the first 3 years following the school wellness policy requirement (2007-2009). Furthermore, analyses examine associations with school policy and SSB availability.
METHODS: Analyses use questionnaire data from 757 middle and 762 high schools in the nationally representative Youth, Education, and Society study to examine soda and non-soda SSB availability associations with school policy including (1) beverage bottling contracts and related incentives, (2) individuals/organizations responsible for decisions regarding beverages available in vending machines, and (3) school wellness policies and nutrition guidelines.
RESULTS: Non-soda SSBs made up the majority of SSBs in both middle and high schools. Soda was especially likely to be found in vending machines; non-soda SSBs were widely available across competitive venues. Access to soda decreased significantly over time; however, non-soda SSB access did not show a similar decrease. School policy allowing beverage supplier contractual involvement (bottling contract incentives and beverage supplier “say” in vending machine beverage choices) was related to increased SSB access. However, the existence of developed nutritional guidelines was associated with lower SSB availability.
CONCLUSIONS: Students had high access to SSBs across competitive school venues, with non-soda SSBs making up the majority of SSB beverage options. Efforts to reduce access to SSBs in US secondary schools should include a focus on reducing both soda and non-soda SSBs, reducing beverage supplier involvement in school beverage choices, and encouraging the development of targeted nutritional guidelines for all competitive venues.