Parents are top influence on soft-drink consumption among kids

07/30/04

Study in Journal of the American Dietetic Association looks at trends in what kids drink and why

CHICAGO - Flavored, carbonated drinks have been around for about two hundred years. And their popularity continues to grow--overtaking more nutritious beverages among some age groups, especially children and adolescents.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota surveyed 560 children ages 8 to 13 years old on how often they drank soft drinks and the factors that influence soft drink consumption.

Among other findings, researchers found:

  • Parental soft drink intake has a stronger influence than children's peers. Parents who consume soft drinks on a regular basis may relax soft drink consumption rules and restrictions for their kids.
  • Approximately 30 percent of children reported drinking soft drinks daily and 85 percent reported they usually drink regular, not diet soft drinks. Soft drink consumption was higher among boys compared with girls and intake increased with age.
  • Ninety-six percent of respondents said that they liked or strongly like the taste of soft drinks. Those children who reported that they "strongly liked" the taste of soft drinks were 4.5 times more likely to drink soft drinks five or more times per week.
  • The odds of drinking soft drinks almost daily was twice as likely for those who watched television 3.5 hours or more a day than those who watched less television.
  • The availability of soft drinks at home and the availability of soft drink vending machines in school were both strongly associated with children's soft drink consumption.

The researchers say additional research is needed to verify these findings in a larger representative sample of children.

"Research has shown that parents are primary role models for kids and that includes their eating habits, too," said registered dietitian and ADA Spokesperson Althea Zanecosky. "Parents need to be aware of what their kids are consuming and encourage foods and beverages that are packed with nutrients. As your best guideline, be sure soft drinks are not crowding out water and other nutritious beverages like fruit juices and milk."

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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