In the Journals Plus

In-person education, provider training may reduce pediatric intake of sugar-sweetened beverages

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August 2, 2018

Effective interventions for decreasing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among children aged 0 to 5 years often take place in preschool/daycare settings, include restricting physical access to beverages, involve in-person individual education, and offer provider training, according to a study published in Obesity Reviews.

“A robust body of literature links [sugar-sweetened beverage] consumption to negative health consequences including adiposity, dental caries, insulin resistance and caffeine-related effects,” Kelsey A. Vercammen, of the department of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, and colleagues wrote in the study background. “The association between [sugar-sweetened beverage] consumption and weight gain is particularly concerning given that childhood obesity often continues into adulthood, heightening the lifetime risk of morbidity and premature mortality from obesity-related diseases.”

In a systematic review, the researchers analyzed 27 studies assessing interventions designed to reduce sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and documenting child sugar-sweetened beverage consumption as an outcome conducted between January 2000 and December 2017.

Included studies evaluated the sugar-sweetened beverage consumption of children via parent-reported measures. Additionally, seven studies used a 24-hour recall, eight used a food frequency questionnaire, five used a validated questionnaire, five used a questionnaire that was not validated, one used a food diary and one used a mobile tracking system.

Eight of the 27 studies reported sugar-sweetened beverage intake as a primary outcome, and three based their sample size calculation on identifying changes in sugar-sweetened beverage consumption. Most studies (n = 18) analyzed several behaviors or lifestyle factors, including diet, physical activity, sleep habits, oral hygiene and use of media, such as television.

Researchers found that several interventions resulted in a successful reduction of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption among young children, including interventions conducted in the preschool or daycare settings (four of five successful studies) and in-person individual education, teaching children and parents about sugar-sweetened beverage reduction (nine out of 14 successful studies). Other successful interventions included in-person group education, (seven of 12 successful studies), passive education with written educational materials (seven of 12 successful studies), technology, including  texts, online lessons or smartphone applications (two of four successful studies), provider training (seven of nine successful studies) and decreased physical access to sugar-sweetened beverage increased availability of healthy beverages (two of two studies).

“Overall, to reduce [sugar-sweetened beverage] consumption among 0-year to 5-year-olds, the available evidence suggests that preschool/daycare may be important settings for interventions, and that in-person individual education, changes to the physical access of beverages and provider training are evidence-based strategies that may encourage behavior change,” the researchers wrote. “However, future research should examine the same strategies across multiple settings and populations, identify which strategies are more effective when combined together, and utilize more rigorous research methodology.” – by Jennifer Byrne

Disclosure: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.