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Kids get soft drink fix at home

Easy access to fizzy drinks at home means primary and high school students are consuming alarmingly high levels of sugar-sweetened drinks.

Kids get soft drink fix at home

Research, conducted by the University of Sydney found school children between the ages of nine and 16 were five times more likely to be high consumers of the sugar-laced beverages if the drinks were available to them at home.

Boys and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds were the most likely to binge on soft drinks, the study’s authors found. 

“We also found students who drank soft drink with meals at home were almost 10 times as likely to be high consumers of these drinks,” said Lana Hebden, the study’s lead author and an Accredited Practicing Dietitian.

“Parents need to consider what is stored in their cupboards or fridge and what their children have access to,” Hebden urged.

But the home wasn’t the only place that high level soft-drink consumers were found to get their fix of sugary beverages. 

The study also found that school canteens and vending machines provided children with easy access to a never-ending flow of soft drinks, which in turn made them three times more likely to consume them.

Published this week in the journal, Preventive Medicine, the research found a clear link between availability of soft drinks at home and at school, and higher than average levels of consumption.

Hebden believes the health implications of excessive soft drink consumption should be a warning for parents: “Consumption of these drinks has been associated with body weight gain in youth, dental caries in young children and elevated blood pressure, insulin resistance and lower bone mineral density in adolescents.”

“We need to be putting out more information about kids’ access to drinks at home, she added, arguing that soft drinks should not be stored at home or offered with regular meals but reserved only for special occasions.

“Parents need to consider what is stored in their cupboards or fridge and what their children have access to.”

More nutritious beverage options such as water or milk were recommended as healthier alternatives to soft drinks. The study’s authors also suggested other strategies such as taxes on sugary drinks as a way of discouraging soft drink consumption.

The study drew on data from the New South Wales Schools Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey (SPANS), which surveyed 8058 students in 2010, from which 52 per cent were boys and 59 per cent were at high school.

The study drew on data from the New South Wales Schools Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey (SPANS), which surveyed 8058 students in 2010, from which 52 per cent were boys and 59 per cent were at high school.

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