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No Sodas at School? Mom to the Rescue

When schools ban bad beverages, teens just increase their at-home consumption.

By Tom Jacobs


(Illustration: Jason Solo)

Teenagers’ consumption of soft drinks has decreased since 2007, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


A version of this story first appeared in the

November/December 2016 issue

of Pacific Standard.

Buy this issue now


While it’s tempting to credit the banning of these beverages from many schools, evidence suggests otherwise. Israeli economist Shirlee Lichtman-Sadot looked at household purchasing data from 2002 to 2009, and reports when “schools ban the sale of carbonated beverages,” households with affected kids “increase their consumption of non-diet soda by roughly the equivalent of 3.4 cans per month.”

She estimates the average student drinks 4.5 to five cans per month at school, so increased home consumption is largely offsetting any reduction due to the on-campus ban.

In the Journal of Public Economics, she suggests tackling the issue from the demand side rather than attempting to restrict supply. Our obesity problem is likely to continue as long as candied carbonation is considered cool — and as long as parents keep the beverage of choice chilling in the family fridge.