Sugary drink consumption high among Black, Hispanic students, those in “high exposure zones”

Consumption also remains higher among children in neighborhoods with “high exposure rates” compared to students in healthier food environments, researchers at the Union of Concerned Scientists, University of Connecticut, Horizon Foundation and Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity found after reviewing sugary beverage consumption by sixth grade students attending public school over a five year period in a county with a multi-level, multi-year reduction campaign.

The findings, published this month in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities​, suggest both race and space influence health equity and sugary drink consumption and that interventions and policies that target factors disproportionately affecting Black and Hispanic students may be more impactful, the researchers argue. For example, they suggest, reducing availability and promotion of sugary drinks to children in fast food and other retail food establishments to help close race- and space-related health disparities.

This suggestion is based on analysis of sugary beverage consumption by sixth graders measured four times during a five-year, multi-level campaign in a Mid-Atlantic county between the 2012-13 and 2016-17 academic years.

Between 2012-13 and 2016-17, the percentage of students who reported consuming a sugary drink daily declined a significant 12.5% from 49.4% to 36.9%. This included a 2.5 percentage point drop in consumption of energy drink, 7.6 percentage points for fruit drinks, 6.9 percentage points for regular soda, 7.7 percentage points for sports drinks and 5.4 percentage points for flavored waters and teas.

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