The effects of a sugar-sweetened beverage ban in a children’s Hospital

Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio banned sugar sweetened beverages in 2011:

Nutrition Services started reducing orders in December 2010 and ran out of soda in the fountains during the last week of December. Soda vendors also let us return any unopened cases of product. The campaign culminated in January 2011 when SSBs were removed from all hospital-owned (hospital cafeteria, a food court, coffee shop, and 2 gift shops) and contracted food service venues (a franchise sandwich shop, an Asian restaurant, and vending machines). Only diet varieties of carbonated beverages, Vitamin Water, PowerAde and 100% fruit juices were allowed. Skim plain, 1% plain, low-fat chocolate milk, and whole milk remained. The latter was kept in recognition of the needs of children younger than 2 years. In addition, large (20 oz) coffee options were removed and the price of bottled water was lowered by $0.10.

In the year following the ban, overall beverage sales in hospital controlled food venues went up 2.7%. By type:


Sodas sales went down (diet beverages were all that remained), but other types of beverages went up.* Vending machine beverage sales went down 22% as well.

They reported that 11 complaints were lodged by employees and patients, which they handled individually.

I want to stress that this was an individual organization making a decision about whether to sell sugar sweetened beverages on its property. They’re free to do whatever they want. I don’t have the same issues with this as I did the NYC soda ban, which was focused only on large soda sizes, wasn’t applied equally to all businesses, had lots of loopholes, and was passed as a matter of public policy.

Anyway, they banned sugar-sweetened beverages, and the world didn’t end. I don’t know if it resulted in any major health changes, but it’s an interesting data point.


*Why does the milk-industrial complex always get a pass?!?!?!?!?

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