Teenagers May Not Be As Addicted To Soft Drinks As Once Thought
March 27, 2014

Teenagers May Not Be As Addicted To Soft Drinks As Once Thought

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Ohio State University researchers say teens may not be as addicted to sugary soft drinks as one might think.

Scientists asked high school students to take part in a 30-day challenge encouraging them to reduce their sugary soft drinks intake in order to help reduce the largest source of added sugar in the US diet. The results from the “Sodabriety” challenge were encouraging.

Students involved in the study were asked to create a teen advisory council that would help lead interventions at the high schools, design marketing campaigns, plan school assemblies and share a fact per day about sugar-sweetened drinks. The campaign was aiming for students to cut back from sugar-sweetened drinks for 30-days.

Researchers found that this campaign helped lower the teens’ intake of sugary drinks, and increased the percentage of high schoolers who abstained from drinking the soft drinks altogether. They also discovered that water consumption among participants increased significantly by 60 days after the start of the program, even without promotion of water as a substitute for the drinks.

“The students’ water consumption before the intervention was lousy. I don’t know how else to say it. But we saw a big improvement in that,” Laureen Smith, associate professor of nursing at Ohio State and lead author of the study, said in a statement. “And there was a huge reduction in sugar-sweetened beverage consumption. The kids were consuming them fewer days per week and when they were consuming these drinks, they had fewer servings.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that about 80 percent of youth consume sugar-sweetened beverages daily, and these drinks can contribute to between 13 and 28 percent of their daily calorie intake. The teens at the schools that took part in the study program have some of the higher rates of sugary beverage consumption compared with others the same age at other schools.

Before the study started, nearly half of the students reported buying sugary drinks from places like vending machines and the cafeteria. Moreover, 63 percent of students reported consuming sugary drinks at least three days per week.

After the challenge, nearly 60 percent of students reported consuming sugary drinks fewer than three days each week.

“We’re teaching kids to help themselves, and it’s a really cost-effective way of promoting health and delivering a message,” Smith said. “We tend to think first of risky behaviors when we study adolescents, but they do positive things, too. With the right guidance and support, they are powerful influencers. We might as well use peer pressure to our advantage.”