253490 Guidelines for children's sugar sweetened beverage intake levels needed

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Jen Nickelson, PhD, RD , Department of Health Science, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
April Chesnut, MA, RD , Department of Health Science, University of Albama, Tuscaloosa, AL
BACKGROUND: Obesity affects approximately 10% of US children ≤ 5 years'. One recommended community strategy for preventing obesity is discouraging sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption. Although the American Academy of Pediatrics has set guidelines for 100% fruit juice (FJ) intake, guidelines for SSB consumption are less clear. One editorial recommends < 1 SSB weekly for children; and a published letter encourages health care providers to "advise against soft drinks and other sweet drinks for infants of any age." The purposes of this study were to explore the relationship between parental SSB knowledge and children's SSB intake, and to learn how parents would respond to the recommendation for children to avoid sweetened beverages. METHODS: Parents (n=75) of children ≤ 5 years from WIC and the university child care center completed surveys assessing children's SSB intake and parental SSB knowledge. A subset of parents participated in 4 focus group interviews to elaborate on survey findings. RESULTS: Survey findings suggested parents knew what beverages contain sugar. However, during interviews, some parents referred to FJ and some sugar-free beverages as SSBs, whereas some high-sugar fruit punches were named as healthier SSBs. Parents thought recommendations to avoid SSBs were unrealistic and some believed up to 1-2 SSBs daily were acceptable. Parents suggested they needed to know how much sugar beverages contain relative to the amount that is acceptable for their children. DISCUSSION: Results suggest that parents have misperceptions about SSBs. Clear, well-formulated, acceptable guidelines for SSBs and educational messages are needed from health authorities.

Learning Areas:
Program planning
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
(1) Describe the relationship between parental sugar-sweetened beverage knowledge and children’s sugar-sweetened beverage intake. (2) Describe the confusion parents have about sugar-sweetened beverages. (3) Describe how parents responded to the recommendation for children to avoid sweetened beverages.

Keywords: Child Health Promotion, Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a dietitian and researcher trained in qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.