Research Original Research: Brief| Volume 119, ISSUE 6, P984-990, June 2019

Alaska Native Children Do Not Prefer Sugar-Sweetened Fruit Drinks to Sugar-Free Fruit Drinks

Published:April 13, 2019DOI:



      Alaska Native children, including children of Yup’ik descent, consume large volumes of sugar-sweetened fruit drinks, which contain added sugars that contribute to obesity, diabetes, and dental caries. To date, taste preference evaluations have not been conducted on commercially available sugar-free fruit drinks.


      The study tested the hypothesis that children would have equal preference for sugar-free and sugar-sweetened fruit drinks.


      This was an experimental two-alternative forced-choice paired preference test.


      The study focused on a convenience sample of Yup’ik children, aged 7 to 10 years, recruited and enrolled from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation dental clinic in Bethel, AK (N=89).


      Children evaluated four different commercially available sugar-free fruit drinks paired with the sugar-sweetened versions of each flavor. Order of flavor pair presentation was alternated across children, and order of presentation within each of the four pairs was randomized across pairs.

      Main outcome measures

      The outcome was taste preference for the sugar-free versus the sugar-sweetened version of a fruit drink.

      Statistical analyses performed

      A test of equivalence was run across all four flavors and separately for each flavor using two one-sided tests.


      The data failed to demonstrate equivalence of the sugar-free and sugar-sweetened fruit drinks across all four flavors (P=0.51) or separately for each flavor. However, this was not because of a preference for sugar-sweetened drinks. The preference for sugar-free drinks overall and for each flavor was >50%. Although the lower bounds of the 90% CIs were within the range of equivalence (40% to 60%), the upper bounds were outside the range of equivalence (>60%). According to post hoc analyses, similar preferences were observed for Yup’ik and non-Yup’ik children, boys and girls, and children of different ages.


      Taste preference findings suggest that sugar-free fruit drinks may be a well-tolerated alternative to sugar-sweetened fruit drinks for Yup’ik children in Alaska Native communities.


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      D. L. Chi is an associate professor, Department of Oral Health Sciences, School of Dentistry, University of Washington, Seattle.


      S. E. Coldwell is a professor, Department of Oral Health Sciences, School of Dentistry, University of Washington, Seattle.


      L. Mancl is a research associate professor, Department of Oral Health Sciences, School of Dentistry, University of Washington, Seattle.


      K. Senturia is a research study coordinator, Department of Oral Health Sciences, School of Dentistry, University of Washington, Seattle.


      C. L. Randall is a postdoctoral fellow, Department of Oral Health Sciences, School of Dentistry, University of Washington, Seattle.


      S. Cruz is a graduate research assistant, Department of Oral Health Sciences, School of Dentistry, University of Washington, Seattle.


      S. Hopkins is an instructor and research nurse, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland.


      E. Orr is a research professional, Center for Alaska Native Health Research, University of Alaska Fairbanks.