Policies supporting access to healthy beverages on city-owned properties can make healthier beverage options more accessible to city residents and employees, a Harvard study suggests.
Researchers explored whether the Boston mayor's 2011 Healthy Beverage Executive Order (HBEO) affected beverage options available on city-owned properties. The executive order directed city departments to eliminate the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages on city property and to adhere to the City of Boston's HBEO standards in vending machines and city-managed food or beverage services programs.
After the HBEO was issued, the availability of healthier beverage options increased significantly in vending machines, cafeterias, and cafés on city properties. City agencies were also significantly more likely to offer only healthier beverages for sale after the executive order was issued.
Researchers observed declines in the average sugar grams and calories in beverages available for sale at city properties. The average proportion of sugar-sweetened beverages declined by 28 percent.
The announcement of the executive order also led 10 Boston-area hospitals to follow suit by opting to make healthy beverages conveniently accessible to their employees and patrons.
"This work supports the findings of a growing number of studies that suggest that policies and healthful vending initiatives can affect local access to healthy options in community settings," the researchers conclude.Study: Evaluating the Impact of the Healthy Beverage Executive Order for City Agencies in Boston, Massachusetts, 2011-2013, Angie L. Cradock, ScD, Preventing Chronic Disease, published 10 September 2015.