Sweet Drinks Are Kids' Top Choice at School

Vending machines, fast-food outlets make independent contributions to total sugar intake

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TUESDAY, Oct. 10, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Sodas and other sugar-sweetened drinks are the most common beverages American kids buy from school vending machines, concludes a Harvard School of Public Health study.

It also found that children who eat at fast-food restaurants are more likely to have sugar-sweetened drinks.

The study looked at daily vending machine purchases and fast-food restaurant orders for 1,500 students at 10 middle schools.

It found that 71 percent of the students reported buying sugar-sweetened beverages from school vending machines, including 68 percent who bought one to three vending machine products, and 79 percent who bought four or more items from a vending machine.

"The number of items youth purchases at school vending machines was directly associated with sugar-sweetened beverages and intake," the study authors wrote.

They also found that sugar-sweetened drinks were bought by more students than any other type of item. More than three times as many sugar-sweetened drinks were bought by the students than the next most popular drink, water.

Eating at fast-food restaurants was also directly associated with consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks.

"These findings suggest that school vending machines and fast-food restaurants make independent contributions to total (sugar-sweetened) beverage intake that increase with repeated exposure or use," the researchers wrote.

The study was published in the October issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

More information

The Nemours Foundation offers parents advice about healthy eating for children.

SOURCE: American Dietetic Association, news release, Oct. 2, 2006

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