post by Bill Gardner
In the comments to this post, Daniel Goldberg and I are discussing the merits of two kinds of interventions to promote health behavior change:
- Macrosocial interventions that produce incentives for individuals to increase their health behaviors or decrease their unhealthy behaviors. An example would be taxes on cigarettes.
- Agentic interventions that seek to increase individuals' abilities to control their own behavior. (For example, Weight Watchers.)
In 2004, Boston public schools banned the on-campus sale of sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda, sports drinks and fruit drinks. The study... tracked ninth- through 12th-graders for two years after the ban began. It found sugar-sweetened beverage consumption, inside and outside school, fell from an average of 1.71 servings per day in 2004 to 1.38 servings in 2006... That’s roughly 45 fewer calories daily, enough to eliminate up to 40 percent of the excess calories blamed for the rising average weight in U.S. children, the study said. By comparison, nationwide there was no statistically significant decrease in teens’ sugary-drink consumption between the 2003-04 and 2005-06 school years, according to the study... the study’s lead author, Angie Cradock [said that] "It also shows that when students couldn’t get these unhealthy beverages in school, they didn’t necessarily buy them elsewhere."