National trends in soft drink consumption among children and adolescents age 6 to 17 years: prevalence, amounts, and sources, 1977/1978 to 1994/1998

J Am Diet Assoc. 2003 Oct;103(10):1326-31. doi: 10.1016/s0002-8223(03)01076-9.


Objectives: Trends between 1977/1978 and 1994/1998 in the prevalence, amounts, and sources of soft drink consumption were examined among youth age 6 to 17 years.

Design: Dietary intake data were examined from three national surveys: the Nationwide Food Consumption Survey 1977/1978 (n=8,908), and the combined Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals 1994/1996, and the Supplemental Children's Survey 1998 (n=3,177). Soft drinks were defined as carbonated beverages (all United States Department of Agriculture database codes starting with 924) and included flavored waters and juice drinks. Subjects/Setting A national sample of youth ages 6 to 17 years were interviewed for each of the 3 surveys.

Statistical analysis: t tests were conducted to examine between-survey changes in soft drink consumption and sources of soft drinks.

Results: The prevalence of soft drink consumption among youth ages 6 to 17 years increased 48%, from a prevalence of 37% in 1977/1978 to 56% in 1994/1998. Mean intake of soft drinks more than doubled, from 5 fl oz to 12 fl oz per day. Although the home environment remained the largest source of children's soft drink access, an increasing share was obtained from restaurants and fast-food establishments (+53%), vending machines (+48%), and other sources (+37%).

Conclusions: Away-from-home sources of soft drink are an important factor for dietitians to consider when evaluating the dietary intake and nutritional status of youths.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Carbonated Beverages / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Drinking*
  • Energy Intake
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Prevalence
  • United States