Nutritional label

Sugary Drinks


The largest source of added sugar in kids’ diets is sugary drinks. Most research indicates that consumption of sugary drinks is linked to higher rates of weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and dental cavities. Substituting healthier beverages, such as water, could reduce over-consumption of calories and improve nutrition and health outcomes.

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:

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Sample lessons and parent communications from the HPRC’s elementary school Eat Well & Keep Moving, middle school Planet Health, and afterschool Food & Fun curricula.

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 DrinkOpens in New Window

Sample Parent Newsletter Article: Be Sugar SmartOpens in New Window


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 SugarOpens in New Window

Sample Parent Newsletter Articles and E-mail Messages: Be Sugar SmartOpens in New Window

Fact Sheets: Healthy HydrationOpens in New Window


Food & Fun


A curriculum designed to develop healthy habits out of school time.



Unit 3: Sugar Sweetened Drinks—Be Sugar Smart!Opens in New Window 

Parent CommunicationsOpens in New Window     SpanishOpens in New Window
NewsletterOpens in New Window
Parent handoutOpens in New Window       

Tip Sheets for Implementing Healthy Beverage Changes

Sugar-Sweetened BeveragesOpens in New Window

WaterOpens in New Window

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  • August 10, 2011 Boston Globe article, Sugar withdrawalOpens in New Window on the evaluation of the 2004 policy restricting the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages in Boston Public Schools
  • The HPRC’s Sugar-Sweetened Beverage InitiativeOpens in New Window is conducting research on policies related to improving access to healthy and economical beverages and reducing access to sugary beverages in Massachusetts and Maine.

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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 actionOpens in New Window. Lancet. 2011 Aug 27;378(9793):838-47.

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, 2004-2006Opens in New Window. Prev Chronic Dis 2011;8(4):A74.

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

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

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

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 youthOpens in New Window. J Am Diet Assoc. 2006 Oct;106(10):1624-30.

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

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

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Other Resources

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