Research Original Research| Volume 117, ISSUE 12, P1900-1920, December 2017

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Determinants of Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption among Low-Income Children: Are There Differences by Race/Ethnicity, Age, and Sex?



      Understanding determinants of high consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), a highly prevalent obesogenic behavior, will help build effective customized public health interventions.


      Our aim was to identify child and parent lifestyle and household demographic factors predictive of high SSB consumption frequency in children from low-income, ethnically diverse communities that may help inform public health interventions.


      We used a cross-sectional telephone household survey.


      Participants were 717 boys and 686 girls aged 3 to 18 years old from the New Jersey Childhood Obesity Study living in five low-income cities (Camden, New Brunswick, Newark, Trenton, and Vineland). The adult most knowledgeable about household food shopping completed a questionnaire over the telephone inquiring about their and their child’s dietary and physical activity habits, and household-, parent-, and child-level demographics.

      Main outcome measures

      Child’s SSB consumption frequency was measured.

      Statistical analysis performed

      Multivariate ordered logit models were designed to investigate a variety of variables hypothesized to affect the frequency of SSB consumption. Exploratory stratified analyses by race, sex, and age were also conducted.


      Eight percent of our study participants never consumed SSBs, 45% consumed SSBs at least once per day, and 23% consumed twice or more per day. SSB consumption was higher among children 12 to 18 years vs 3 to 5 years (P<0.0001), of non-Hispanic black vs non-Hispanic white race/ethnicity (P=0.010), who were moderate fast food consumers vs never consumers (P=0.003), and those whose parents were high vs low SSB consumers (P<0.0001). Living in a non–English-speaking household (P=0.030), having a parent with a college or higher education vs less than high school (P=0.003), and having breakfast 6 to 7 days/wk vs never to 2 days/wk or less were associated with lower SSB consumption (P=0.001).


      We identified a number of household-, parent-, and child-level predictors of SSB consumption, which varied by race, sex, and age, useful for building customized interventions targeting certain behaviors in ethnically diverse, low-income children.


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      N. Tasevska is an assistant professor, School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, Arizona State University, Phoenix.


      C. Lorts is a PhD candidate, School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, Arizona State University, Phoenix.


      P. Ohri-Vachaspati is a professor, School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, Arizona State University, Phoenix.


      D. DeLia is a research professor, Rutgers Center for State Health Policy, New Brunswick, NJ.


      M. Yedidia is a professor, Rutgers Center for State Health Policy, New Brunswick, NJ.