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Effects of an intervention aimed at reducing the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages in primary school children: a controlled trial

Vivian M van de Gaar1, Wilma Jansen2, Amy van Grieken1, Gerard JJM Borsboom1, Stef Kremers3 and Hein Raat1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Public Health, Erasmus University Medical Centre, Rotterdam, 3000, CA, the Netherlands

2 Department of Social Development, City of Rotterdam, Rotterdam, 3000 BA, the Netherlands

3 Department of Health Sciences, University Maastricht, Maastricht, MD, the Netherlands

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2014, 11:98  doi:10.1186/s12966-014-0098-8

Published: 25 July 2014



Since sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) may contribute to the development of overweight in children, effective interventions to reduce their consumption are needed. Here we evaluated the effect of a combined school- and community-based intervention aimed at reducing children’s SSB consumption by promoting the intake of water. Favourable intervention effects on children’s SSB consumption were hypothesized.


In 2011-2012, a controlled trial was conducted among four primary schools, comprising 1288 children aged 6-12 years who lived in multi-ethnic, socially deprived neighbourhoods in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Intervention schools adopted the ‘water campaign’, an intervention developed using social marketing. Control schools continued with their regular health promotion programme. Primary outcome was children’s SSB consumption, measured using parent and child questionnaires and through observations at school, both at baseline and after one year of intervention.


Significant positive intervention effects were found for average SSB consumption (B -0.19 litres, 95% CI -0.28;-0.10; parent report), average SSB servings (B -0.54 servings, 95% CI -0.82;-0.26; parent report) and bringing SSB to school (OR 0.51, 95% CI 0.36;0.72; observation report).


This study supports the effectiveness of the water campaign intervention in reducing children’s SSB consumption. Further studies are needed to replicate our findings.

Trial registration

Current Controlled Trials: NTR3400 webcite

Overweight prevention; Sugar-sweetened beverages; Primary school children; Social marketing; Water; Integrated or community approach