Online Program

Policy, Research and Unique Partnerships: How One Maine County Eliminated Sugary Beverage Scoreboards on School Owned Property

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 8:50 a.m. - 9:10 a.m.

Karen O'Rourke, MPH, School of Community and Population Health, University of New England, Portland, ME
Michele Polacsek, PhD, MHS, School of Community and Population Health, University of New England, Portland, ME

Becky Smith, Maine, Founders Affiliate, American Heart Association, Scarborough, ME
Bethany Sanborn, MPH, MCHES, Public Health Division, Health and Human Services Department, City of Portland, Maine, Portland, ME
Introduction: Non-nutritious food and beverage marketing (FBM) in schools reinforces marketing outside of school and conflicts with the purpose and values of education.  Maine schools, like most US schools, are rife with FBM.  Approach: Through the effort of public health advocates, Maine passed the first statewide law to prohibit advertising of specific types of junk food on school property in 2007.  However, subsequent research conducted on the impact of the state law in Maine high schools found that 63% of school scoreboards still contained prohibited sugary beverage advertising.  The Cumberland Public Health Council Obesity Work Group, in Cumberland County Maine, partnered with public health advocates and the beverage industry to identify and replace all non-compliant school owned scoreboard advertising throughout the county at no cost to schools.  Results:  As a result of the statewide policy, public health advocates were able to enlist the support of school administrators and the beverage industry to work together to comply with the law.  Ten schools in eight school districts were found to have non-compliant score boards.  All schools now have water products advertised in place of the sugary beverages.  Discussion:  In order to improve school nutrition environments, a statewide policy prohibiting junk food advertising is a critical first step. Public health advocates and researchers can work together to identify the weaknesses of the law.  Creating community partnerships that include the beverage industry can help schools comply with the law, at no cost and with minimal effort required of school administrators.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Chronic disease management and prevention
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe how policy, research and partnerships contributed to the removal of sugary beverage scoreboards in schools in Maine. Explain the process required to pass, evaluate and ensure compliance with a state law limiting marketing of junk food on school property. Describe partnership roles and opportunities in policy-making, research and implementation of a statewide school marketing ban, including involvement of non-traditional partners.

Keyword(s): Obesity, Marketing

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked on public health policy for more that 20 years and on state-level obesity policy initiatives for more than 10 years. I have been involved in obesity policy research, research to practice initiatives and am currently co-chairing an obesity workgroup for the public health district.
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.