Wide availability of high-calorie beverages in US elementary schools

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2011 Mar;165(3):223-8. doi: 10.1001/archpediatrics.2010.215. Epub 2010 Nov 1.


Objective: To examine the availability of beverages for sale in elementary schools.

Design: Nationally representative mail-back survey.

Setting: U.S. public and private elementary schools during the 2006-2007, 2007-2008, and 2008-2009 school years.

Participants: Survey respondents at elementary schools.

Main outcome measure: Availability of beverages offered in competitive venues and school lunches.

Results: Public elementary school students' access to beverages for sale in any competitive venue on campus (vending machines, stores, snack bars, and/or à la carte) increased from 49.0% in 2006-2007 to 61.3% in 2008- 2009 (P < .01). The percentage of public school students with access to only beverages allowed by the Institute of Medicine guidelines for competitive beverages (i.e., water, 100% juice, and 1% or nonfat milk) increased from 10.0% to 16.1% (P < .01). Access to higher-fat milk (2% or whole milk) in school lunches decreased from 77.9% of public school students in 2006-2007 to 68.3% in 2008-2009 (P < .001). Flavored milk was available at lunch on most days for 92.1% of public school students.

Conclusions: As of the 2008-2009 school year, high-calorie beverages and beverages not allowed by national guidelines were still widely available in elementary schools.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Beverages / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cattle
  • Child
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Food Dispensers, Automatic*
  • Food Services*
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Milk
  • Nutrition Policy
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Schools / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sweetening Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Sweetening Agents / analysis
  • United States


  • Dietary Fats
  • Sweetening Agents