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Artificial sweeteners in food and beverage products at school

  • Rebecca M Schermbeck (a1), Julien Leider (a1), Elizabeth Piekarz-Porter (a1) and Jamie F Chriqui (a1) (a2)

Experts recommend that products containing artificial sweeteners are not marketed to children or sold at schools. The present study aimed to provide a baseline assessment of the extent to which state laws and local school district wellness policies (LWP) address restrictions on the use of artificial sweeteners in competitive foods and beverages (CF&B) sold at schools.


A descriptive, cross-sectional study of policies in place for the 2014–15 school year.


Data were collected on laws in all fifty states and Washington, DC. LWP were compiled for 496/518 school food authorities (SFA) for which data were collected as part of the US Department of Agriculture’s School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study.


State laws and LWP respectively were coded on a 0–3 ordinal scale for the strength of their restrictions on artificial sweeteners in CF&B sold in each of five CF&B venues, separately by grade level. Prevalence of state laws and LWP for SFA nationwide was computed.


Thirteen states addressed the use of artificial sweeteners. Six states addressed the use of artificial sweeteners in both CF&B. District-level artificial sweetener policies were most frequently addressed for beverages in elementary schools’ vending machines. District policies also were more likely to address artificial sweeteners in states with laws addressing artificial sweeteners.


Most state laws and LWP do not address artificial sweeteners in CF&B. This is not surprising given the Food and Drug Administration has approved eight artificial sweeteners for consumption and the Smart Snacks regulation does not limit artificial sweeteners for CF&B.

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