Public Health Nutrition

Hot Topic – Soft drinks

Sociodemographic, behavioural and environmental correlates of sweetened beverage consumption among pre-school children

Roman Pabayoa1a2, John C Spencea1 c1, Nicoleta Cutumisua1, Linda Caseya3 and Kate Storeya4

a1 Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, E-488 Van Vliet Centre, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T6G 2H9

a2 Department of Society, Human Development, and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA

a3 Stollery Children's Hospital/Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

a4 School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


Objective To identify sociodemographic and environmental correlates of sweetened beverages (regular soft drinks, fruit juice) among children of pre-school age.

Design Children's dietary intake, food behaviours and screen time were measured by parental report. A Geographic Informational System was used to assess the number of grocery stores and fast-food restaurants available within 1 km of the children's residence. Multivariate log-binomial regression models were constructed to determine correlates of drinking soft drinks during the previous week.

Setting Edmonton region, Canada.

Subjects Children aged 4 and 5 years (n 2114) attending a public health unit for immunization were recruited for a cohort study on determinants of childhood obesity, between 2005 and 2007.

Results Children from neighbourhoods with low socio-economic status (relative risk (RR) = 1·17, 95 % CI 0·98, 1·40) or who participated in >2 h of screen time daily (RR = 1·28, 95 % CI 1·13, 1·45) were significantly more likely to have consumed regular soft drinks within the last week. Those who lived within 1 km of a grocery store were significantly less likely to consume regular soft drinks (RR = 0·84, 95 % CI 0·73, 0·96). Children who participated in >2 h of screen time daily (RR = 1·16, 95 % CI 1·06, 1·27) were more likely to exceed the recommended weekly number of servings of fruit juice.

Conclusions Socio-economic and built environment factors are associated with soft drink consumption in children of pre-school age. These findings may help health professionals to advocate for policies that reduce soft drink consumption among children.

(Received June 08 2011)

(Accepted December 08 2011)

(Online publication January 24 2012)


c1 Corresponding author: Email