Understanding the Landscape of Default Beverage Policies and Preliminary Data from Delaware Restaurants

October 19, 2019

The consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) such as soda and energy drinks has been linked to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, among other negative health outcomes. The consumption of SSBs is of particular concern for children, because they are forming dietary habits that have the potential to last a lifetime, and because overweight children are at high risk of becoming overweight adolescents and adults. In response, many government entities have enacted a range of policies that seek to limit children’s SSB consumption by encouraging healthier choices. One example, and the focal point of this document, are policies that require restaurants offering bundled children’s meals to offer only unsweetened or lightly-sweetened drinks as the default beverage option. In most cases, these policies retain the option to purchase an SSB outside of the bundled meal. A healthy default beverage policy intends to discourage SSB consumption and encourage the formation of healthy habits and conscious choices on the part of the consumer. The Center for Research in Education and Social Policy (CRESP) at the University of Delaware is involved in research to understanding the impact of such policy measures.

Keywords: Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, SSBs, healthy beverage choices, sugary drinks, kids’ meal choices, childhood obesity, Wilmington default beverage policies.



Authors: Allison Karpyn, Jesse Arkins, Nicole Kennedy, Tara Tracy