Soft drink consumption alarming in Aussie kids

20 January 2012

Eighty per cent of Australian children are regularly consuming carbonated soft drinks and other sugar-laden beverages - and they mostly do it at home, a study shows.

The study, from the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Perth, showed alarmingly high rates of consumption of soft drinks (including energy drinks), juices with added sugar, cordial, sports drinks, milkshakes/smoothies and flavoured milk.

The data which looked at a representative random sample of 4800 children aged 2–16 years, suggests supermarkets rather than fast food outlets are key to consumption, the researchers said.

More than 77 per cent of sugar-sweetened beverages were bought from supermarkets, with 60 per cent consumed in the home environment.

“Less than 17 per cent of sugary drinks were sourced from the school canteen or a fast food outlet, despite these sources being the focus of many public health recommendations,” lead author Kate Hafekost said.

“These findings suggest that health messages should target supermarkets as the key source of the sugary drinks.”

Some 14 per cent of the children surveyed were considered high consumers of sugar-sweetened beverages (greater than a third of daily beverage intake), 66 per cent were low to moderate consumers, and approximately 20 per cent reported no such consumption on either study day.

Younger children mainly consumed sweetened juice, while older age groups consumed progressively more carbonated beverages.

BMC Public Health 2011, online 22 December

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