Why Parents Need to Be Better Informed About Sports and Energy Drinks

Although many public service announcements about sugar-sweetened beverages emphasize that the drinks are high in sugar and calories, most parents already know that, so public health campaigns that take this approach to curtailing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages are likely to be ineffective, a study of Philadelphia parents has found.

But parents do believe that sports and energy drinks are healthier than other the other sugary drinks. So public service ads seeking to curtail the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages should try to reduce the belief that those drinks are healthy, too, according to the study, which was led by Michael Hennessy at the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

“Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption by Adult Caregivers and Their Children: The Role of Drink Features and Advertising Exposure,” was published online in March by the journal Health Education & Behavior. The study was based on a 2012 representative telephone survey of 371 Philadelphia parents in households with children between the ages of 3 and 16, and was led by researchers at the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

The study evaluated parents’ attitudes toward sugar-sweetened beverages and the relationship between their attitudes, their consumption, and their children’ consumption. The study noted that sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda add an average of more than 200 calories a day to the diet of children and adolescents.

For more about the study, click here.