Objective: To document increases in caloric contributions from sugar-sweetened beverages and 100% fruit juice among US youth during 1988-2004.
Patients and Methods: Analysed 24-hour dietary recalls from children and adolescents (aged 2-19) in 2 nationally representative population surveys: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III (1988-1994, N = 9882) and National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2004 (N = 10 962). Estimated trends in caloric contribution, type, and location of sugar-sweetened beverages and 100% fruit juice consumed.
Results: Per-capita daily caloric contribution from sugar-sweetened beverages and 100% fruit juice increased from 242 kcal/day (1 kcal = 4.2 kJ) in 1988-1994 to 270 kcal/day in 1999-2004; sugar-sweetened beverage intake increased from 204 to 224 kcal/day and 100% fruit juice increased from 38 to 48 kcal/day. The largest increases occurred among children aged 6 to 11 years (approximately 20% increase). There was no change in per-capita consumption among white adolescents but significant increases among black and Mexican American youths. On average, respondents aged 2 to 5, 6 to 11, and 12 to 19 years who had sugar-sweetened beverages on the surveyed day in 1999-2004 consumed 176, 229, and 356 kcal/day, respectively. Soda contributed approximately 67% of all sugar-sweetened beverage calories among the adolescents, whereas fruit drinks provided more than half of the sugar-sweetened beverage calories consumed by preschool-aged children. Fruit juice drinkers consumed, on average, 148 (ages 2-5), 136 (ages 6-11), and 184 (ages 12-19) kcal/day. On a typical weekday, 55% to 70% of all sugar-sweetened beverage calories were consumed in the home environment, and 7% to 15% occurred in schools.
Conclusions: Children and adolescents today derive 10% to 15% of total calories from sugar-sweetened beverages and 100% fruit juice. The analysis indicates increasing consumption in all ages. Schools are a limited source for sugar-sweetened beverages, suggesting that initiatives to restrict sugar-sweetened beverage sales in schools may have an only marginal impact on overall consumption. Pediatricians’ awareness of these trends is critical for helping children and parents target suboptimal dietary patterns that may contribute to excess calories and obesity.