Introduction: Few studies have looked at changes among risk factors that might help explain why childhood obesity prevalence in the US has leveled off in recent years. We present an analysis of the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) that examines trends in childhood and adolescent obesity as well as trends in sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption.
Method: We compared 3 separate cross-sectional samples (2003, 2005, and 2007) from biennial CHIS for 3 age groups, age 2-5, age 6-11 and age 12-17. We calculated the prevalence of high SSB consumption (defined as having more than one SSB during the previous day). 2 measures of obesity were used - weight-for-age at or above the 95th percentile on national growth charts for children aged 2-11, and body mass index for age at or above the 95th percentile on national growth charts for adolescents aged 12-17. Logistic regression analysis is used to estimate adjusted odds ratios of high SSB consumption in 2005 and 2007 compared with the baseline year of 2003.
Results: From 2003 to 2007, each age group experienced a substantial decline in high SSB consumption (16.4%-5.0% for age 2-5, P < 0.001; 22.5%-9.9% for age 6-11, P < 0.001; 35.7%-25.7% for age 12-17, P < 0.001). Declines in the prevalence of children's obesity were significant among children age 2-5 (P < 0.001) and age 6-11 (P < 0.05) but not among adolescents (P = 0.42). Children and teenagers in 2005 and 2007 were significantly less likely than those surveyed in 2003 to have high SSB consumption after adjusting for gender, age, race/ethnicity, poverty level, and parental education (P < 0.001).
Conclusion: Policy actions may have impacted the prevalence of SSB consumption in the population. Further research is needed to examine the contribution of declining SSB consumption on the leveling off of obesity trends and the extent to which these declines are attributable to new policies and programs.
Keywords: children; obesity; overweight; policy; soft drink; sugar.