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Soda Consumption in CA: Decreases for Youngsters but Increases for Adolescents

Update Date: Oct 18, 2013 10:54 AM EDT

One of the many subjects anti-obesity initiatives focus on is soda consumption. Soda, which is made up of mostly added sugar, greatly contributes to childhood obesity. In order to prevent obesity rates from rising, soda addictions must be stopped at an early age. In California, recent campaigns had appeared to be working to a certain extent. According to new statistics out of the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), children under 12 are drinking less soda. However, even though the survey found a dip in this age group, it also found that adolescents in California are drinking more soda.

In this study, researchers gathered data on over 40,000 California households. They focused on soda consumption of youth between the ages of two and 17. The research team focused on consumption rates in 2005-2007 and in 2011-2012. On top of these numbers, the study also looked at county-by-county soda consumption rates, which was calculated with the help of the UCLA (University of California Los Angeles) Center for Health Policy Research and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy.

"California has made real progress in reducing the consumption of sugary beverages among young children," said Dr. Susan Babey, the report's lead author according to Medical Xpress. "But teens are in trouble. Soda or sports drinks should be an occasional treat, not a daily habit. If this trend isn't reversed, there may be costly consequences for teens, their families and the health care system in the form of increased obesity and diabetes."

The study found that for children between six and 11, their soda consumption fell from 43 percent in 2005-2007 to 32 percent in 2011-2012. For the younger age group of two to five, soda consumption dropped from 27 percent to 19 percent within the same time frame. Despite these dips, the researchers found that for the age group of 12 to 17, soda consumption increased five percent. In 2005-2007, 60 percent stated that they drank at least one sugar-sweetened drink per day whereas in 2011-2012, 65 percent reported the same frequency.

When the researchers looked at ethnic groups, they found that soda consumption rose for Latinos, Asians and African-Americans. The numbers revealed that around 74 percent of African-Americans and 73 percent of Latino adolescents reported drinking at least one sweetened drink each day. The researchers found that the most dramatic increase in consumption was Asian adolescents.

The researchers believe that increased awareness regarding the consequences involved with drinking sugary beverages has prompted parents to control and limit the number of sweetened beverages their young children consumed. However, for adolescents in their teenage years, soda consumption becomes harder to control because teenagers tend to want to be more independent and make their own choices.

"Soda and other sugary drinks contribute half a billion empty calories a day to California's costly childhood obesity crisis," said Dr. Robert Ross, president and CEO of The California Endowment, which funded the study. "We have to redouble our efforts to protect our children, especially adolescents and children of color, from the unbridled marketing of high-calorie drinks that is drowning our kids in sugar."

The study, "Still Bubbling Over: California Adolescents Drinking More Soda and Other Sugar-Sweetened Beverages," was published in California Center for Public Health Advocacy. 

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