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Abstract

In recent years, many researchers have sought to measure the effects of adolescent soft drink consumption due to a suspected link with childhood obesity and other negative health outcomes. While most studies in the existing literature have focused on physical health outcomes, the current study seeks to analyze how providing soft drinks in vending machines affects adolescent in-school behavior and academics. The data for this analysis comes from a school district in which a subset of schools prohibited the sale of soft drinks in vending machines. Using this subset of schools as a treatment group, students at the treatment schools are compared with students at the schools that did not change their vending machine policies. A difference-in-differences estimation shows that the number of times a student was tardy to class decreased significantly at the treatment schools. Students also were less likely to be referred to the principal’s office for behavior problems following the policy change. These results suggest that policies directed toward restrictions on soft drinks in school vending machines might improve behavioral outcomes for students.

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