Nutritional label

Sugary Drinks

While individuals should choose healthy beverages over sugary drinks, there is a serious need for cost-effective interventions and policies that decrease access to sugary drinks while improving access to free, safe, and cold water. The HPRC is working with The Boston Public Health Commission, Boston Public Schools, and providers of afterschool programs, such as the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club of Boston, and the Boston Centers for Youth and Families to create environments that are free of sugary drinks. Below you will find:

  • Tools and lessons to use with elementary and middle school students and in afterschool programs to teach kids the importance of limiting sugary drinks and consuming more water.
  • Tips for making your afterschool program an environment free of sugary drinks.
  • Sample materials for communicating these messages to families.
  • Examples of national and state policies to decrease access to sugary drinks and increase access to free, safe, and cold water.
  • Scientific publications from the HPRC providing an evidence base for the importance of limiting sugary drinks to improve health and reduce overweight and chronic disease risk.
  • Other useful resources.

Tools, Lessons, & Tips

Out of School Nutrition and Physical Activity (OSNAP)


OSNAP is an initiative designed to develop healthy habits related to healthy foods, drinks, and physical activity through sustainable policy and environmental strategies during out-of-school time programs. This initiative promotes the following healthy foods and beverages and water access goals:

Tip Sheets:
Sugar Sweetened Beverages
Water, Water Everywhere!

Fast Maps for:
Eliminating Sugary Drinks from Snacks Served
Improving Water Consumption

Policy Writing Guide for Sugary Drinks

Additional Resources for Healthy Snacks and Beverages

Food & Fun


This curriculum is designed to assist program staff in providing healthier environments to children during out-of-school time. Food & Fun Afterschool includes 11 teaching units that use both lessons and activities to encourage healthy behaviors through active play, literacy and math skills development, creative learning, and hands-on snack time activities.

Information for Leaders:
Food and Fun Training Video
Unit 3: Be Sugar Smart
Unit 10: Water

Parent Communications | Spanish version
Parent handout & Newsletter

Eat Well & Keep Moving


An interdisciplinary elementary school program designed to promote healthful eating and physical activities in school, home, and community environments.

Sample Lesson: Lesson 7: Sugar Water: Think About Your Drink
Sample Parent Newsletter Article: Be Sugar Smart

Planet Health

An interdisciplinary curriculum focused on improving the health and well-being of sixth through eighth grade students while building and reinforcing skills in language arts, math, science, social studies, and physical education.

Sample Lesson: Lesson 19: Passing the Sugar
Fact Sheet: Healthy Hydration
Parent Newsletter: Be Sugar Smart


  • August 10, 2011 Boston Globe article, Sugar withdrawal on the evaluation of the 2004 policy restricting the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages in Boston Public Schools


Ebbeling CB, Feldman HA, Chomitz VR, Antonelli TA, Gortmaker SL, Osganian SK,
Ludwig DS. A randomized trial of sugar-sweetened beverages and adolescent body
weight. N Engl J Med. 2012 Oct 11;367(15):1407-16.
Giles CM, Kenney EL, Gortmaker SL, Lee RM, Thayer JC, Mont-Ferguson H, Cradock AL. Increasing water availability during afterschool snack: evidence, strategies, and partnerships from a group randomized trial. Am J Prev Med. 2012 Sep;43(3 Suppl 2):S136-42.

Sonneville KR, Rifas-Shiman SL, Kleinman KP, Gortmaker SL, Gillman MW, Taveras
EM. Associations of obesogenic behaviors in mothers and obese children
participating in a randomized trial. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2012

Gortmaker SL, Swinburn BA, Levy D, Carter R, Mabry PL, Finegood DT, Huang T, Marsh T, Moodie ML. Changing the future of obesity: science, policy, and action. Lancet. 2011 Aug 27;378(9793):838-47.

Taveras EM, Gortmaker SL, Hohman KH, Horan CM, Kleinman KP, Mitchell K, Price
S, Prosser LA, Rifas-Shiman SL, Gillman MW. Randomized controlled trial to
improve primary care to prevent and manage childhood obesity: the High Five for
Kids study. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2011 Aug;165(8):714-22.

Cradock AL, McHugh A, Mont-Ferguson H, Grant L, Barrett JL, Wang C, Gortmaker SL. Effect of school district policy change on consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among high school students, Boston, Massachusetts, 2004-2006. Prev Chronic Dis 2011;8(4):A74.

Mozaffarian RS, Wiecha JL, Roth BA, Nelson TF, Lee RM, Gortmaker SL. Impact of
an organizational intervention designed to improve snack and beverage quality in
YMCA after-school programs. Am J Public Health. 2010 May;100(5):925-32.

Taveras EM, Mitchell K, Gortmaker SL. Parental confidence in making
overweight-related behavior changes. Pediatrics. 2009 Jul;124(1):151-8.

Wang YC, Ludwig DS, Sonneville K, Jiang H, Gortmaker SL. Impact of change in sweetened caloric beverages on energy intake among children and adolescents. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2009 Apr;163(4):336-43.

Bleich SN, Wang YC, Wang Y, Gortmaker SL. Increasing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among US adults: 1988-1994 to 1999-2004. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jan;89(1):372-81. Epub 2008 Dec 3.

Wang YC, Bleich SN, Gortmaker SL. Increasing caloric contribution from sugar-sweetened beverages and 100% fruit juices among US children and adolescents, 1988-2004. Pediatrics. 2008 Jun;121(6):e1604-14.

Taveras EM, Sobol AM, Hannon C, Finkelstein D, Wiecha J, Gortmaker SL.
Youths’ perceptions of overweight-related prevention counseling at a primary care
visit. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007 Apr;15(4):831-6.

Wiecha JL, Finkelstein D, Troped PJ, Fragala M, Peterson KE.  School vending machine use and fast-food restaurant use are associated with sugar-sweetened beverage intake in youth. J Am Diet Assoc. 2006 Oct;106(10):1624-30.

Wiecha JL, Peterson KE, Ludwig DS, Kim J, Sobol A, Gortmaker SL. When
children eat what they watch: impact of television viewing on dietary intake in
youth. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2006 Apr;160(4):436-42.

Ludwig DS, Ebbeling CB, Peterson KE, Gortmaker SL. Hard facts about soft drinks. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2004 Mar;158(3):290.

Bowman SA, Gortmaker SL, Ebbeling CB, Pereira MA, Ludwig DS. Effects of
fast-food consumption on energy intake and diet quality among children in a
national household survey. Pediatrics. 2004 Jan;113(1 Pt 1):112-8.

Ludwig DS, Peterson KE, Gortmaker SL. Relation between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and childhood obesity: a prospective, observational analysis. Lancet. 2001 Feb 17; 357(9255):505–8.

Other Resources