251662 Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research & Evaluation Network: Policy context of sugar-sweetened beverage and water access in Massachusetts and Boston

Monday, October 31, 2011: 8:48 AM

Angie Cradock, ScD , Harvard Prevention Research Center, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Kristin Mikolowsky, SM (Cand) , Department of Society, Human Development & Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Cara Wilking, JD , Public Health Advocacy Institute, Northeastern University School of Law, Boston, MA
Colin O'Brien , Chronic Disease Prevention & Control Intern, Boston Public Health Commission, Boston, MA
Becky Franckle, MPH , Strategic Alliance for Health, Boston Public Health Commission, Boston, MA
Steven Gortmaker, PhD , Harvard School of Public Health Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Background: Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) is associated with excess weight gain in children and adolescents. Access to low-cost, healthy beverage alternatives, including water, may be limited by federal, state, district or agency/organizational policies and practices. Methods: We surveyed school, local, state and federal policy frameworks shaping current SSB and tap water availability in Boston's school and city agency settings via interview, legal review, document review and site audits. Results: Recent Massachusetts' legislation, existing public health regulation, school district policy and local plumbing code influence access to water in school settings. Statewide, few local school wellness policies (10%) addressed access to free drinking water. Policies more commonly address access to soda (45%) and other sugar-sweetened beverages (34%), though differ in strength of policy provision and in the grades to which they apply. In Boston, 94 of 135 public schools provide their students bottled water rather than plumbed water due to concerns about water quality. SSBs are commonly found within city agencies and on city property. Conclusions/Discussion: Several potential policy-related barriers and facilitators influence access to low-cost healthy beverages in school and community settings. Local and state policy approaches including action in school districts with water quality issues stemming from aging infrastructure, aligning water access in schools with existing plumbing code, prohibiting long term use of bottled water and improved enforcement and funding initiatives may support increased access to a healthier beverage mix. Specific policy efforts to decrease access to SSBs and improve water access on city property are underway.

Learning Areas:
Chronic disease management and prevention
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the local, state and federal policy frameworks that shape the current sugar-sweetened beverage and public water availability in Bostonís school and city agency settings. 2. Identify potential policy-related barriers and facilitators to increased access to a healthier beverage mix in school and community settings.

Keywords: Public Health Policy, Food and Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am deputy director of the Harvard Prevention Research Center.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.