Nothing to report: School food bans have zero effect

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We were disappointed to see media coverage of what amounts to the non-results of a poorly executed study that was, somehow, published in the American Journal of Public Health. A team of researchers from eight different universities found that, in states banning the sale of bad food at school concession stands, daily soda consumption has dropped by twice as much among black students as among all students. Compared to all students who consumed 0.09 fewer servings of soda per day, black students consumed 0.19 fewer daily servings. It s a difference that amounts to an average of 50 fewer calories per day for the black students, and which has resulted in no decline in students body mass indices.

ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom is not surprised that the ban didn't work. Fifty calories is about one half of a banana. This is another ridiculous ban resulting in nothing but more bureaucracy and annoyance for everyone, he adds.

Aside from the underwhelming results of the soda ban itself, ACSH's Dr. Ruth Kava notes that the entire study was limited by its reliance on students self-reporting of their soda consumption, height, and weight a method that produces notoriously unreliable data. However, headlines like the one trumpeted by MSNBC (School soda ban has greatest effect on black students) give the impression that such institutional bans are actually effective, lending unmerited credibility to proposals like Mark Bittman s pie-in-the-sky op-ed.