Evaluating the Impact of the Healthy Beverage Executive Order for City Agencies in Boston, Massachusetts, 2011–2013
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Evaluating the Impact of the Healthy Beverage Executive Order for City Agencies in Boston, Massachusetts, 2011–2013

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    Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) is associated with negative health effects. Access to healthy beverages may be promoted by policies such as the Healthy Beverage Executive Order (HBEO) established by former Boston mayor Thomas M. Menino, which directed city departments to eliminate the sale of SSBs on city property. Implementation consisted of “traffic-light signage” and educational materials at point of purchase. This study evaluates the impact of the HBEO on changes in beverage availability.


    Researchers collected data on price, brand, and size of beverages for sale in spring 2011 (899 beverage slots) and for sale in spring 2013, two years after HBEO implementation (836 beverage slots) at access points (n = 31) at city agency locations in Boston. Nutrient data, including calories and sugar content, from manufacturer websites were used to determine HBEO beverage traffic-light classification category. We used paired t tests to examine change in average calories and sugar content of beverages and the proportion of beverages by traffic-light classification at access points before and after HBEO implementation.


    Average beverage sugar grams and calories at access points decreased (sugar, −13.1 g; calories, −48.6 kcal; p<.001) following the implementation of the HBEO. The average proportion of high-sugar (“red”) beverages available per access point declined (−27.8%, p<.001). Beverage prices did not change over time. City agencies were significantly more likely to sell only low-sugar beverages after the HBEO was implemented (OR = 4.88; 95% CI, 1.49–16.0).


    Policies such as the HBEO can promote community-wide changes that make healthier beverage options more accessible on city-owned properties.

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