Background: There have been increases in the obesity and overweight rates in Australian children over the past 25 years and it has been suggested that sugar sweetened beverages (SSB) have played a role in this increase.
Objective: The objectives of this study were to: (1) examine SSB intakes in the 2007 Australian Children's Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (2) relate SSB intake to rates of overweight and obesity, socio-economic status (SES), TV viewing time, and activity levels and (3) compare 2007 SSB intakes with data from the 1995 National Nutrition Survey.
Design: A computer assisted 24 h dietary recall in 4,400 children aged 2-16 years was performed.
Results: In the 2007 survey 47% of all children reported drinking SSBs with 25% consuming sugar sweetened soft drinks on the day of the survey. The mean consumption of soft drink was 436 g/d/consumer. Activity levels were unrelated to SSB consumption. Television viewing was positively related to soft drink consumption with a difference of 55 g/day from bottom to top tertile of time spent TV viewing (p = 0.015) in children aged 9-16 years. 55% of SSB consumption occurred at home and 10% occurred at school. Lower SES status was associated with a greater prevalence of SSB consumption- 30% for the lowest SES quartile vs 19% in the highest quartile. The proportion of overweight who consumed SSBs (which excludes 100% fruit) was not different from the non-overweight children although the proportion of SSB consumers in the 6% of children who were obese was significant compared with the non-overweight children (59% vs 47%, p < 0.05). In the 2007 survey 23% of children were overweight (17%) or obese (6%) while in the 1995 survey this figure was 21%. The proportion of children consuming SSBs in 1995 and 2007 for selected age groups were: 2-3 years - 25.8% and 12.8% respectively and 4-7 years - 33.6% and 20.5% respectively (p < 0.001 for both).
Conclusions: This cross-sectional data set provides evidence that SSB consumption for Australian children is still high despite the decrease since 1995 in some age groups. It provides little support to conclude that overweight in children is currently being driven by excessive SSB consumption although it may be factor in some obese children. Conclusions are limited by the cross sectional nature of the study.