Institutional settings

Shifting from high-sugar to low-sugar offerings fits with the broader goals of a number of institutions such as state and local governments, hospitals, and schools. There is growing recognition that food and beverages purchased with government and health care funds should not contribute to the burden of diseases due to sugar. A variety of policy options have been enacted that reflect this shift. These policies are often spurred by the desire to make these institutions serve as role models for best practices. Read more about Institutional settings here.


Many hospitals across the nation have adopted policies to limit the sale of sugary drinks. Some have removed sugary drinks from their cafeterias, vending machines, meetings, and catering services. Some have also removed the sale of sugary drinks entirely from their campuses. Other actions include introducing a stoplight labeling system for beverages—green is healthy, red is to be avoided—and removing the advertisements for sugary drinks. Educational campaigns such as “Rethink Your Drink” were used to reinforce the impact of the policies.

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Government purchasing

Policies that set nutrition standards for government purchasing exist at the national, state, and local levels. Most of these policies address the food and beverages sold in vending machines at government facilities but can also apply to government programs, contracts, meetings, and events.

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School wellness policies

In 2004, Congress established a new requirement that all school districts with a federally funded school meals program develop and implement wellness policies that address nutrition. Some schools have adopted policies to prohibit the sale of some sugary foods and beverages to students during the school day. Some have also set nutrition standards to limit sugary foods and beverages used for fundraising activities, celebrations, rewards, and marketing. Although almost all school districts have adopted a wellness policy, they often lack specificity related to nutrition standards as well as requirements for implementation and compliance.

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Colleges and universities

The University of California, San Francisco was the first higher education institution in the nation to phase out the sale of some sugary beverages campus-wide through a voluntary policy that took effect in July, 2015.

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Pouring rights contracts

Pouring rights contracts are marketing strategies that typically involve large lump-sum payments from soda companies in return for exclusive sales at schools, colleges, and government facilities. These contracts are intended to shape brand loyalty, especially among young people.

In 2015, students at San Francisco State University were successful in stopping a planned pouring rights contract. They pointed out that promoting sugary beverages would detract from the university’s values as a publicly funded institution.

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